Week 11 Monday 10-pack

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Nine days after 11-11-11, the 11th Sunday of the 2011 regular season was played.

In the AFC, we’re no closer to knowing which teams are the best teams.  In the NFC, ineffectiveness and injuries are allowing two franchises with eight Lombardi Trophies between them to continue to separate from the pack.

But let’s go deeper than the same-old “if the season ended today” scenarios or the other fairly obvious stuff you’ll see on certain four-letter networks today.

For some reason, I always can come up with only 10 things to say.

1.  Moral victory for the Bucs.

They say there are no moral victories.  I say “they” say a lot of things, plenty of which are wrong.

In this specific case, here’s why.

Blown out 48-3 by the 49ers and 37-9 by the Texans, the Bucs desperately needed to avoid a similar fate at Lambeau Field.  It wasn’t looking good early, what with the Packers up 14-0.

But the Bucs scratched and clawed their way back into the game, making it competitive and keeping the score respectable.  For coach Raheem Morris, whose contract situation puts the team in a fire-him-extend-him-or-let-him-do-the-lame-duck-thing trilemma for 2012, avoiding an embarrassment was the next best thing to pulling what would have been a most unlikely upset.

That said, a couple of ill-advised onside kicks likely won’t help the “keep Raheem” cause.  Overall, however, the Bucs have nothing about which to be ashamed — apart from their recent effort to make excuses for their 4-6 record by pointing out how difficult their schedule is.

2.  Michael Bush, Kevin Smith prove the fungible nature of tailbacks.

On Sunday morning, an item from one of the Bay Area websites presumed that Raiders running back Michael Bush will be swimming in gold coins come free agency in 2012.  Though Bush definitely won’t be pitching a tent in Zucotti Park, he will still be earning a fraction of the game’s truly elite backs.

Bush, while talented, possesses skills that aren’t uncommon at the NFL level.  Every year, college programs throughout the country churn out men who will move the chains, with competent blocking.  Though Bush, who would have been a first-round pick but for a gruesome leg injury in the first game of his final season at Louisville, lands on the high end of the curve, he’s not in the Adrian Peterson/Chris Johnson financial district, yet.

The performance of guys like Lions’ reclamation project Kevin Smith underscores that point, and eventually will undermine Bush’s case for big dollars.  Unwanted by the Lions after three seasons with the team and drawing zero interest elsewhere, Smith hung around and hung around until the Lions decided that their running game was sufficiently bad to justify bringing back one of the lone bright spots from that 0-16 team of 2008.

Smith responded Sunday with 201 total yards and three touchdowns.

Though the performance may have given Smith a short-term assignment pending the return of Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith’s career nevertheless will be remembered more like Timmy’s than Emmitt’s.  Yes, playing the position requires speed and toughness and courage and durability.  But of all the things that NFL players are required to do (other than kicking, punting, holding, and long-snapping), those traits seem to be the most common.

That’s why only a few get paid a ton of money, and that’s why veterans like Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis, and Tiki Barber are spending the 2011 season unemployed, and flabbergasted.

3.  Percy Harvin would be special, if he got the touches.

There’s a guy in Minnesota who has those interchangeable tailback skills, but at a far higher level than most.  The only problem is that, for reasons neither known nor apparent, the Vikings don’t use him as much as they should.

Percy Harvin made a big splash in 2009 as a rookie receiver and kickoff returner.  Lost in the shuffle of last year’s disappointing season, Harvin nevertheless had more yards from scrimmage.

This year, with not even a mention of an issue with migraines that previously plagued him at the pro level, his workload hasn’t spiked the way that it should for a third-year player who has shown a ton of potential.

Maybe it’ll come in 2012, after quarterback Christian Ponder gets more comfortable and the Vikings upgrade their offensive line via free agency and/or the draft.  Maybe it’ll eventually have to come after Harvin joins a new team.

Regardless, at some point Percy Harvin deserves a chance to become the total package — whether as a full-time receiver or a part-time wideout/tailback or even as a full-time Darren Sproles-style option out of the backfield.  Harvin could be so much better than he has been, and he’s one of the few true stars that remain on the roster of a 2-8 team.

4.  Caveat emptor, quarterback edition.

Titans tailback Chris Johnson still isn’t earning his money.  A week after racking up 100-plus rushing yards for the first time since getting paid, Johnson’s average plunged to 1.1, with 13 yards on 12 carries.

The lesson to the Titans, and the rest of the league, is becoming more obvious:  Don’t pay big money to a running back who has held out for all of training camp and the preseason, especially when there are so many others who can do the job.

In Buffalo, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has provided another piece of advice for NFL teams:  Don’t pay an up-and-coming quarterback during the season in which he’s up-and-coming.

Fitzpatrick’s game has evaporated since he put his name at bottom of a six-year, $59 million contract.  Yes, the Bills celebrated the new deal with a 23-0 win against the Redskins in Toronto.  But the team, and most importantly Fitzpatrick, had their mojo (along with their Deux Deux Deuxs) confiscated at the Canadian border.

Outscored 106-26 in games against the Jets, Cowboys, and Dolphins, Buffalo now finds itself in a 2008-style free-fall, with any realistic chances of a postseason appearance riding on the ability to somehow get their groove back.

And, please, don’t point out that the 2001 Patriots were also 5-5 after 10 games.  The Pats’ arrow was pointing up a decade ago.  The Bills’ tank is, by all appearances, on empty.

By giving Fitzpatrick that big contract, it will be harder for the Bills to effectively consider all their options come January, given the money that has been tied up in the contract for Fitzpatrick.

5.  It’s time to extend the goal posts, somehow.

On Sunday, a pair of field goals created a little controversy, due in part to the fact that today’s kickers routinely blast the ball higher than the uprights extend.

In Cleveland, Phil Dawson believed a 38-yarder that would have put the Browns up by seven points late was good, even though the officials disagreed.  The lost three-pointer nearly ended up haunting the Browns, who had to hold off one final charge by the Jaguars.

In Washington, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan didn’t agree that a 39-yard try in overtime from Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey had satisfied the standard for chalking up a field goal.

In both cases, the ability to determine whether the kick was good was complicated by the fact that the ball went above the uprights.

For kicks that go over the U-shaped structure, the rule book requires the ball to pass fully within the outside edge of the uprights.  Which basically means that if an official standing directly under the outside edge of the upright looks straight up and sees no portion of the ball, the kick is good.

Good luck getting in the right spot and making the right judgment while the ball is soaring right through the air at least 30 feet above the ground.

The easy fix would be to make the uprights taller.  Sure, they already look goofy with the extra-long extensions that would dwarf the H-shaped contraptions of yesteryear.  And the laws of physics would result in much greater stress being placed on the corners of the crossbar as wind blows the very tops of even longer beams.

Still, it’s 2011.  The NFL eventually found a fake grass that performs much better than green cement, and the NFL easily could find a material that would perform well when elongated by an extra 10 feet, even in high winds.

At a minimum, the league should consider a high-tech solution that would use sensors or lasers to visibly extend the post, or that would allow the officials to determine easily whether the ball indeed passes inside the outer edge of the uprights.

As the sport grows and the importance of the outcome of each game (or, for the fantasy football crowd, each extra point and field goal) becomes more significant, the league needs to be prepared to take all reasonable steps to iron out any potential glitches in the rules.  After Sunday, it’s obvious that the league needs to address the height of the goal posts.

6.  Sorting out the offsetting penalties in Eagles-Giants.

The PFT email box and Twitter pipeline exploded on Sunday night, after a penalty for illegal use of hands against the Giants during a 50-yard pass to Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and a post-play taunting penalty on Jackson completely wiped out the gain and gave Philly an unwanted do-over from their own two yard line.

The prevailing thought was that Eagles should have been able to decline the penalty against the Giants, and then to have the 15 yards walked off after the play, giving Philly a 35-yard gain.

But the outcome reflected the proper application of a strange donut hole in the rule book.

The process gets started at Rule 14, Section 1, Article 9:   “If there has been a foul by either team during a down and there is a dead ball foul by the other team in the action immediately after the end of the down, it is a double foul, and all rules for enforcement of double fouls apply (see 14-3-1).”

Regarding double fouls, Article 14, Section 3, Rule 1 provides as follows:  “If there is a double foul . . . without a change of possession, the penalties are offset and the down is replayed at the previous spot.”

In this case, a key exception almost applied, but ultimately didn’t.  “If one of the fouls is of a nature that incurs a 15-yard penalty and the other foul of a double foul normally would result in a loss of 5 yards only (15 yards versus 5 yards),” the rule book states, “the major penalty yardage is to be assessed from the previous spot.”  Since the penalty on the Giants entailed a five-yard penalty AND an automatic first down, the exception didn’t apply in Jackson’s case.  Even if it had (for example, if the Giants had simply been offside), the Eagles would have had the 15 yards walked off (or, in this case, half the distance to the goal) from the previous spot.

Either way, the penalty on the Giants ultimately penalized the Eagles.  Though the officials sorted it all out properly in real time, the rule book definitely needs to be tweaked to prevent such unfair outcomes.

7.  Vince Young clinches a second chance to start.

The stats weren’t pretty, especially with three interceptions and a passer rating of 69.0, but Vince Young’s performance in the clutch during a primetime game for the squad he unintentionally gave the “Dream Team” label could go a long way toward giving him a shot at a starting job in 2012.

After Young signed with the Eagles following his unceremonious exile from Nashville, Eagles president Joe Banner told PFT Live that Young wanted a one-year deal, even though the Eagles had hoped to lock him up for two.  Young’s insistence on a shorter term lets him get back to the market again in March. Even if he doesn’t take another snap this year, he has done enough to earn extra consideration in this quarterback-need league.

Young, quite simply, is Tim Tebow plus the ability to throw the ball reasonably accurately, albeit unconventionally.  Young still can perform at a high level; the challenge will be to match him up with a coach who’ll be able to shepherd Young through the adversity he’ll inevitably face as a starting quarterback.

Young faced plenty of it last night, and he did enough to keep the “Dream” alive, even if it dies for good next week against the Patriots.

8.  Eli catches the Romo disease.

Two weeks ago, many were singing the praises of Peyton Manning’s kid brother.  Since then, Eli has been playing like the evil twin of Tony Romo.

Late turnovers in losses to the 49ers and the Eagles have dropped the Giants from 6-2 to 6-4, plunging them into a tie with the Cowboys and giving the Eagles a glimmer of hope, especially since Philly currently holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Dallas and New York.

In each of the last three weeks, Eli’s passer rating for the season has dropped.  And last night’s 74.0 doesn’t take into account the play that killed the Giants’ late hopes for a comeback — a fumble when Eli was hit from behind by Jason Babin.

As the Giants find themselves in the midst of yet another late-season collapse, Eli needs to find a way to turn those late opportunities into something other than turnovers.  If he can’t, plenty of jobs could be turning over in New York after the season ends.

9.  Bears could be in a real bind.

Peter King explained late night for an exclusive SNF Extra video that the thumb injury to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler could be a killer for Chicago.  Contrary to the classic design of the Mike Martz offense, Cutler had been moving more out of the pocket in order to buy time behind a work-in-progress offensive line.

With Caleb Hanie getting the nod, the Bears either need to get him comfortable doing what Cutler was doing, or hope the offensive line gets a lot better.

In the interim, it could mean more reps for Matt Forte, who’ll only add to his pay-the-man case if the Bears climb onto his back while Cutler is out.

And as to anyone who thinks that my lobbying last week for the Texans to pursue Brett Favre in lieu of Matt Leinart applies to the Bears, my perceived lunacy doesn’t extend to Illinois.  The Martz offense is too complex, the Bears are too cheap, and Martz is too obsessive-compulsive to ever make Favre a potential match there, even though it would give Brett a shot at the Vikings and at least one crack at the Pack.

The best bet for the Bears is to hunker down with Hanie, and hope for the best.

Unless Marc Bulger, who ran the Martz offense in St. Louis, decides to emerge from retirement.

10.  Catching up with what’s a catch.

It had been five weeks since the last time the Calvin Johnson rule reared its head in a game situation.  On Sunday, the Bengals lost a touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham via the application of a rule that routinely defies with the expectations of the reasonable fan.

Gresham bobbled the ball near the end zone, got possession of it in the vicinity of the goal line, took two steps, fell to the ground with the ball in one hand, and lost the ball when the hand holding it struck the ground.

This year, the league has emphasized the element of time, treating such plays as valid receptions if the receiver who, while going to the ground, had enough time to make a football move, regardless of whether a football move was actually made.  And that seems to be what Gresham did.  Or at least could have done.

Perhaps more importantly, the fact the officials in real-time called it a catch (and thus a touchdown) would require conclusive 100-drunks-in-a-bar evidence to overturn the play.  With the question of whether Gresham had enough time to make a football move a topic that strays into the realm of professional judgment, referee Ron Winter should have deferred to the ruling on the field that Gresham had possession long enough to make a football move.

The outcome reconfirms that the league needs to clean up the rule book once and for all regarding what is and what isn’t a catch when a receiver hits the ground.  The “football move” exception is a twist on the uncodified “second act” rule, which allowed the requirement of maintaining possession through the ground to be disregarded when the receiver manages to break the plane of the goal line while falling.

The NFL needs to just start over, crafting a simple rule that the officials can consistently apply — and that meshes with what a reasonable person would regard to be a catch, or not a catch.

69 responses to “Week 11 Monday 10-pack

  1. Let’s not put Eli with Romo yet. Romo’s collapses are the big bang theory, a ton of interceptions all at once.

    Collinsworth did a good job pointing out the sack/fumble was actually Manning’s fault because he stepped up out of the pocket.

  2. Forte should hold out right now. At the front of the wild card race, and with Jay Cutler out, they’d be forced to “pay the man” or throw away the season.

    His teammates might not appreciate it, but hey, “it’s a business” right? Isn’t that what players always say after their friends get cut? They should understand a strategic holdout at this juncture.

    I wonder if his agent has brought this up. He’d have a new contract before next Sunday.

  3. Or, DeSean could lose the taunting. It’s unprofessional and it’s not like he hasn’t been penalized for it before.

  4. I agreed with the Gresham call. It didn’t feel like a catch and I’m glad it came back.

  5. Funny how all of the sports sites are saying the Eagles are back after that win last night….

    The G-Men came out flat. Eagles won, but let’s not get silly, Eagles won’t make the playoffs.

  6. Aren’t field goals reviewable? I did not watch the Browns game so I cannot comment on it, but for the Cowboys OT field goal there was a camera angle after the commercial break that clearly showed the kick was good. It looked iffy at the time of the kick due to the camera angle from behind the kicker, but it was clearly good from the camera shot underneath the field goal posts.

  7. “6. Sorting out the offsetting penalties in Eagles-Giants.”… or Jackson could simply not taunt the Giants sideline. I’m not a fan of either team, but I was happy to see that they threw a flag for that, it was the definition of unsportsmanship.

  8. Gresham had a touchdown. That rule is completely ridiculous. A running back can stick the nose of the ball over the goal line from the field of play then have it knocked away and its still a touchdown. With Gresham, he had the ball in the field of play, crossed the goal line THEN went to the ground and its not?!? The Calvin Johnson rule was supposed to apply for catches IN THE END ZONE

  9. I’m sorry, how exactly did Vince Young prove he should get another shot at a starting gig in the NFL? The only reason his terrible game won was because the guy on the other sideline played worse.

  10. Laser goalposts? Hopefully they work better than the scanners at Wal Mart. “It didn’t scan, kick it again.”

  11. .

    Spot on analysis of the Buffalo -Fitzpatrick scenario. Is he the guy who can lead the Bills to overtake the Brady – led Patriots in the AFC East? Is this Rams -Bulger part 2?


  12. “Gresham bobbled the ball near the end zone, got possession of it in the vicinity of the goal line, took two steps, fell to the ground with the ball in one hand, and lost the ball when the hand holding it struck the ground.”

    Gresham never lost possession of the ball when the ball struck the ground. As confirmed by Mike Perrera, losing possession is when the ball COMES OUT of the receiver’s hand, which was never the case here. So, the whole “football act” question is moot, the ball never ever left Gresham’s hand (completely different to the Calvin Johnson play, where the ball squirted out of his hand when it touched the ground and literally ended up lying on the ground yards away from him)

  13. As for the ‘uprights’ question, technology has come a long way. A tight-focus infra-red camera recessed in each upright would catch anything crossing uprights path.

  14. It’s 2011. You don’t have to extend the goal posts. All you have to do is run an xray laser up the inside of the posts and use a special ball with reflective paint for FGs. If any part of the ball touches the laser, it would be recorded not matter how high the kick was.

  15. “Though Bush definitely will remain in the one percent”

    Remember when you said you didn’t pay attention to politics? Yeah, stick to that. We come here for the distraction from the political garbage.

  16. Raheem Morris got his job backstabing Gruden and kissing management’s butt. How could anyone expect him to be a good coach?

  17. If that wasn’t a TD, then Victor Cruz’s 2nd TD in the 1st game against the Eagles wasn’t either.
    He jumped and caught the ball at the goal line, fell into the end zone and the ball popped out. But they said he controlled it as he crossed the goal line, so they said it counted anyway…. What???

  18. “Eli catches the Romo disease.”

    Isn’t that more correctly “Eli catches the VICK disease”

    After all Vick has blown FOUR games where he had the lead going into the 4th qtr (plus one in which he was tied) vs Romo’s 2.

    There’s a choke artist among the Beast QBs, but it isn’t Romo by a long shot.

  19. They ruled that Gresham didn’t gain possession before he crossed the goal line. Since they ruled that way he had to maintain it all the way to the ground. He clearly didn’t. Argue where he got possession all you want but the rule is clear.

  20. If the refs wouldn’t of screwed the Bengals over by taking away Jermaine’s obvious TD, then the Bengals game would’ve gone to OT easily. The Bengals had the ball on the Raven’s 7 the next possesion and was moving the ball against their defense all day. This game should’ve been settled in OT. Cant wait for the revenge game on January 1st.

  21. Bengals got screwed on the Gresham call –

    What the hell happened to the 3 minute timeline they were supposed to stick to on replays? If you can’t decide in 3 minutes then it ought not be changed.

    On a related note – the NFL really needs to start putting an age limit on these refs. If a player can’t keep up with they speed of the game at 38 than how in the hell can a 60 year old ref keep up?

  22. Extend the goal post by putting “antenna” on them – that can extend them up about 10 ft or more with no added stress on the corners.

    It would then be easy to see whether the ball passed inside or outside of the antenna.

  23. Haine is mobile. The bears o-line was fine before losing two starters to IR. Few teams could take that kind of loss and not need some time to adjust.

    And the bears are REAL cheap, right? Let’s ignore the mega-deals urlacher, peppers, and Hester are under. Not to mention the handsomely compensated cutler, Briggs, Tillman, garza, and coaching staff.

  24. I have a simple rule for defining a “catch.” A “catch” occurs when a receiver secures possession of the ball with 2 feet inbounds.
    That’s it. Don’t create a special rule for receivers “going to the ground,” which causes all kinds of confusion. Gresham secured possession of the ball with 2 feet inbounds, therefore it’s a catch. This is how fans have defined a “catch” since I started watching football 40 years ago. What do you think Mike?

  25. How do the Eagles have the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Giants? They split their games this season.

  26. Understand the rule – Gresham bobbled the ball going into the endzone therefore he has to complete the catch to the ground. I don’t like it but they ruled it correctly. Not the same as a running back (who had posession) getting the ball slapped after crossing the line.

  27. I think Mike Martz has QB JT O’Sullivan on speed dial and–he’s available.

    Quite frankly, a perfect fit. A veteran QB who has run the Martz offense in multiple venues. Exactly what the Bears need in case Hanie gets hurt.

  28. why not just put a gps or rf chip inside the ball? That would guarentee touchdown out of bounds and first down calls.

    Some of these chips are so tiny it would be hard to imagine it affecting throws and kicks.

    Guess the union for the referees (if they have one) might have something to say about this though.

  29. The real solution to the field goal problem isn’t to extend an already extended height of the goal posts. This is the 21st Century! A laser-type beam could be installed within the uprights which would emit a beam upward for a couple hundred yards. The refs in the booth upstairs would have a monitor and could see in an instant where the ball goes relative to the upright beams. Problem solved. The refs will never get this (or much else) right. Let technology solve this simple problem.

  30. “Catching up with what’s a catch”
    I can’t believe the football world is not gathering pitch forks and torches to hunt down Roger Goodell. The thought of Ron Winter being allowed to walk around freely among us, let alone ref another game next week is unacceptable.

  31. Romo’s “disease” showed up in TWO games this year. After last night, Mr. Clutch/Elite Eli now as 3 late game gaffs that cost his team. Let’s not forget the pick he threw to Seattle at the end of the agme when they were inside the 10 going in for a score to try and beat the almighty Seahawks.
    Maybe stop being so blind to how good Romo really is and realize how average a guy like Eli truly is. Because anyone who knows anything about football knows they don’t belong in the same sentence.

  32. If the Bears’ O-line is still a “work in progress”, then Marc Bulger would do better to stay retired than come out and get smacked around and be all gun-shy again…

  33. Ill take what i saw out of my bucs yesterday. They put in an effort i hadnt seen in a while. I think the bucs played well and altough they cant help put get flags every other down, i keep seeing glimpses of last years team.ik were not makin the playoffs this year but with some D drafted in this upcoming draft and havin T-jax back with a developed dline we might look good next year.

  34. The fact that anyone would use the phrase “a football move” to describe anything is completely asinine. How does the NFL expect anyone to apply the rules when they’re written so ambiguously?

    My understanding of the rules is this:

    When a receiver is going to the ground as he’s catching the ball in the end zone, he has to maintain possession of the ball. Gresham caught the ball and got one foot down before entering the end zone. But that’s not a catch, because he needed two feet down. He got the second foot down IN THE END ZONE, meaning that he had to maintain possession of the ball as he went to the ground (which he clearly didn’t do).

    Unless I’m wrong about what constitutes a catch (which is different for catches made in the end zone when the player is going to the ground), I don’t see why there’s so much confusion. This play has nothing to do with “football moves” as far as I can tell.

  35. For those who want to put a chip inside the football, that won’t work, because any point of the ball reaching a first down line or the goal line counts. The only way an electronic reader could work is if the entire surface of the ball was coated with something the reader can pick up. Suppose a ball carrier approached the goal line and the laces are what reach the plane – if a chip was inside the ball, it could cause a reading of “short of the end zone”.

  36. The Bengals got screwed on the Gresham catch. All the sport show on this morning are saying the same. The game souldnt have came down to that but it did and leave it to the refs to screw it up. When the ball goes over the goal line its touchdown period and k thought the ground couldnt cause a fumble.

  37. I agree that the Gresham catch should have been a TD. The “going to the ground” rule should be only for a receiver who is making a diving catch of some sort, not a receiver who is on his own two feet while catching the ball and THEN falls down. The present interpretation is one of the stupidest things the NFL has going right now.

  38. Put a crossbar at the top of the existing goalposts, and attach a loose net at the back. The crossbars at the top would make the field goal more of a challenge instead of kickers being allowed to just blast away. Then, the kickers have to get it into the goal, and not over. More accuracy required.

  39. One the one hand, I’m pretty sure the reason why the Vikes haven’t used Percy more than they have is/was because he is not a big guy but he plays like one, and he’s had some some injuries of the kind (hip, ribs, illness) that don’t necessarily keep him out of the game, but might limit how much they want to use him.

    That said… Axshually, the Vikings have been using Percy a lot more and a lot more creatively lately. Check out yesterday’s game against the Raiders and you’ll see Bill Musgrave has drawn up some pretty sweet plays to get Percy the ball. No doubt they weren’t using him enough early in the season, but it helps to now have a quarterback who can get him the ball…

  40. When a player has posession of the ball IN THE END ZONE it’s a touchdown, the play is over. All this “football move” “going to the ground” crap is just that-crap.

  41. Bluestree might be on to something. Lasers on the goal posts & if the ball breaks the beam a light comes on to show it’s no good.

  42. Bills need a deep threat bring in terrell owens stevie johnson is a number 2 no one circles the wagons like the buffalo bills oh wait we can’t circle the wagon the wheels fell off

  43. “When a player has posession of the ball IN THE END ZONE it’s a touchdown, the play is over.”

    If that were true, then there would never have been an issue with the Calvin Johnson play.

    I think you’re confusing carrying the ball over the line with receiving the ball in the end zone.

  44. Enough with the Romo bashing. The guy makes mistakes once and awhile, but so does every NFL QB. He’s had two games this year where he couldn’t finish, the rest of the season he’s been great. What about all the choking Vick has done? How about Phillip Rivers lately? How come everybody else gets a pass when they make mistakes that cost their teams the game?

  45. What they need to do for catches is specify an amount of time that the player needs to control a football for it to be considered to be possessing the ball. Period. End of story. A player has to begin possession while still in the field of play.

    But other than that, it doesn’t matter if they are in the endzone, out of it, going to the ground, etc. This is simple, intuitive, applies to offensive and defensive players, and is consistent across all parts of the field.

    Also it is easy to objectively define with a replay. The ref stamps the start and end of the possession by slowing down and pausing the replay and deciding exactly when those points in time are. Then a program tells you the amount of time between those two time stamps. Any video editing software is capable of this.

    Now the only objective part of the call is deciding when it starts and stops, in slow motion.

    Refs during the live portion of the game will have to practice and train to get this right and there will be mistakes. But on a replayed play it will be definitive, and that is all you can really ask for.

  46. One way to overcome the height problem of the goal posts is to have the entire GP collapse on itself, recessed into the ground, erect it via hydraulics in sections when needed — much like a net is raised behind the posts. As it is now, your view can be obstructed by the posts if you are seated in the end zone. Two problems solved with one move.

    While I have your attention, I’d like to see all showboating outlawed in pro football. If you score a TD, flip the ball to the ref and head for your bench, where you celebrate with your teammates.

    Same would apply to a great offensive or defensive play. No gyrations of self congratulations. No signaling first down. Get some high fives or whatever when you huddle up.

    Do anything else and it’s a 15 yard penalty.

    The play should speak for itself. No need to show up your opponent. It’s bush league and only serves to incite the other team. I blame Homer Jones, who spiked the ball after a TD and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson for doing some version of the chicken dance when he scored for starting these stupid rituals.

    These are supposed to be mature, professional athletes. They are paid to perform. Do your job and, if you do it well, you’ll be rewarded with praise and money. You diminish your accomplishments by patting yourself on the back.

  47. 8 Lombardi trophies between them? Oh really? Last I checked, the Packers had four and the 49ers had five. And last time I checked that, four and five make nine. Nice to have sportswriters that know what they’re talking about.

  48. I was rather dumbfounded but completely knew the rule in Desean Jackson’s taunting penalty. I think a lot of fans never considered how the rule could be applied with such a flawed result. I’m not justifying the taunting or inferring that the officials made a mistake, but I really had to slap myself in the forehead when I realized how dramatic the result could be. Does the rule apply the same to offsetting penalties that occurred after a dead ball, or would that scenario simply apply to the dead ball spot? I assume the later, or a guy could go take a shot on your quarterback after the taunting just to negate your big play- that can’t be right. I’m sure the rules don’t include such a loophole that could be exploited like that. (Having faith that the NFL regulations are much more sound than our nations tax code!)
    In the end, I guess I don’t remember such a dramatic application of this rule and am not likely to see it again anytime soon…I certainly don’t have any useful suggestions as to how to fix it 🙂

  49. The field goal ‘problem’? Can be solved with a simple rule change:

    Put a horizontal bar across the top of the goal posts at whatever height is desired. Any ball that goes over, under, or to either side of that box is NO GOOD.

    If a hockey puck goes over the goal, it is no good. If a basketball goes beyond the hoop, it is no good.

    If the kickers can’t adjust, too bad. A quarterback doesn’t get credit for getting the ball to a receiver (only 10 feet too high). The QB adjusts, and the next toss is lowered (usually – but there still is no guarantee the receiver can or will catch the football).

  50. On the Gresham catch The rule again is a stupid rule in my mind and it needs removed from the rule books. But anyways, The rule is if you have posession of the football and it so much as breaks the plain of the endzone then it a touchdown. I have it recorded and watched it several times and he has posession of the football, hell he’s palming it in one hand so how much more posession due you need. Posession established. They say he didn’t make a football move, he turned upfield gained posession of the ball and then got his left foot in bounds then his right foot in bounds. That sounds like a enough of a football moved to me right. Then gets tackled out of bounds, comes down out of bounds while palming the ball and the bottom of the ball touches the ground and he does not lose posession of the football even after that. they say it was not a touchdown. How much more are they going to make a receiver do to call a catch a catch. Rediculous. If a running back runs the ball crosses the plain and is tackled out of bounds and looses the ball as he hits the ground. It’s still a TD.

  51. If a defender had slapped the ball from his hands, would it have been ruled an incomplete pass?

    Here’s a suggestion about what constitutes a catch:

    “The receiver must have complete possession (control) of the football and two feet, one knee or forearms in bounds. The ground cannot cause an incomplete pass.”

    If I am able to control the ball (no movement of the ball in my hands or body) for two steps or while the rest of my body is hitting the ground, then I have made a catch, plain and simple. If the ground can’t cause a fumble, it shouldn’t cause an incomplete pass either.

  52. The Calvin Johnson rule was applied in the ravens/cinci game because the 2nd foot came down in the end zone….a bad rule was applied correctly.

  53. thankheavenfornumberseven says:
    Nov 21, 2011 11:27 AM
    You’re going to see plenty of Percy Harvin next week because he’ll replace Peterson as the primary running back. Toby Gerhart was a wasted draft choice.

    I don’t think he was a wasted pick….. He moves the chains when he has blocking. Once he gets to the line, he always falls forward and gets an extra yard or two. In fact, if Peterson weren’t there, the Vikings could have some fun with a package of Gerhart, Harvin, Rudolph, and two WRs. Think about it, what alignment does the defense use? Nickel? Spread Rudolph out wide and Harvin in the slot in a trips formation. If a CB is on Rudolph, than there will be a LB on Harvin. Mismatch. Split the LB out wide to cover Rudolph? One LB and the DL against a power runner. Safety covering Rudolph to put the nickel corner on Harvin and keep the LBs inside? Single safety deep. Dime package? Line Rudolph in tight with Harvin in the I with Gerhart. Base D? Same problems as the nickel, minus the power run.

    Heck, get Peterson to work on his run blocking, and do that anyway.

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