Week 14 Game Reviews

Atlanta Falcons-New Orleans Saints

Falcons

- Michael Turner had two big runs in the first quarter. On one, he must have gotten 15 yards after first contact. That’s what he does best.

- Matt Ryan’s INT in the first quarter was probably because he didn’t see CB Jason David at all who had a great break on the ball.

- Ryan made a great throw on a quick slant from his own 1-yardline on a third down play for a first down. He led Roddy White and threaded the pass right past the defender. That’s the kind of stick throws QBs have to make.

- Ryan’s long completion to White early in the second quarter for a big gain down field was really luck. The defender fell down. But the timing between the two have is really evident. They will be a great combo for many years to come.

- Ryan had an exceptional first half. The touch he put on the ball on the fade TD catch to Brian Finneran was great. It had to be a good pass or Finneran would have landed out of bounds.

- Ryan has a great sense of pocket movement and when to step up to create functional space. I can’t believe how polished he is as a rookie. He’s playing like a QB in his third year or later. Just wait until they get him a good TE.

- Ryan had two unreal throws in the third quarter throwing off of his back foot. The thing he does surprisingly well is some how get good balance when dropping well back. I’d say he’s already better than Eli Manning–yes, I’m not kidding. I’d rather have Ryan. Much more upside and I think he has a better feel for the game already.

- He did a good job again on a late third quarter throw over the middle to White. Ryan and Joe Flacco have this rare ability to not care about throwing the ball into tight coverage.

- I can only go by what I see so where Ryan is in the infancy of his career is just amazing. I realize the defenses he played the last two weeks, but I challenge anyone to find a real issue with him now. He’s doing everything right and has the traits of a veteran. I see the Carson Palmer comparisons in regard to touch. Ryan has great timing and touch on his throws.

Saints

- Pierre Thomas got the start and handled the touches on the first series.

- Reggie Bush started the second series and had a big run up the middle through a huge hole.

- Bush scored a few plays later on a circle route over the middle. He really moved much better in this game than last week.

- You can see why Drew Brees is spreading the ball around so much. In previous years, he only really had one solid passing target in Marques Colston plus specialty passes to Bush. Now he has those two plus Jeremy Shockey and Lance Moore and P. Thomas on screens as well. That might explain why Colston isn’t seeing as many passes as expected.

- It’s amazing how big the holes were in the middle to run through. They were able to actually move Grady Jackson a little.

- Thomas and Bush were alternating in the first half. I’d expect a rotation such as this the rest of the way. Thomas is a very decisive runner and will hit the holes that are there. He’s taken over the role that Deuce McAllister was supposed to have, but clearly can’t handle anymore.

- Colston had a 20-yard catch called back due to a penalty in the second quarter.

- Shockey just missed a catch for a possible score in the first half when he beat the defender by 5 yards but the ball sailed over his head.

- They did try to get Colston the ball in this game but the passes either were over thrown, he couldn’t holkd on to them, or he couldn’t stay in bounds.
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Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers

Texans

- While it turned out to be a nice play for a TD, Kevin Walter’s catch was just bad positioning by CB Tramon Williams. He took a bad angle on the ball and Walter was able to nudge him out of the way. You can see why we thought the move of Charles Woodson to SS could help the Texan passing game. That play right there was a reason why.

- How bad was the Packer run defense? On a third and 10 from their own 10, they ran the ball to the left and Steve Slaton picked up a first down. There’s no way that should happen. It wasn’t even a draw or a delayed run.

- Slaton made a great one-cut run late in the first quarter for a huge gain on the right side. While the hole was big, he ran with great vision and he finds daylight really well.

- Owen Daniels fumbled away a TD. He caught it inside the 5 yardline and fumbled it on his way to the endzone.

- Matt Schaub started to get into a rhythm after struggling with his accuracy early in the game. He has great chemistry with Daniels, Walter, and Andre Johnson. He did make a bad throw that was picked off by Tramon Williams in the second quarter which led to a TD.

- Great throw by Schaub to Walter again down field for a 50-yard + pass completion. Great play design of rolling Schaub out so he can get a clear look at the field.

- As expected, Al Harris was on Johnson most of the game so Walter, as we guessed, had the better matchup and it showed.

- Slaton does a good job of getting yards after first contact. He must have had 4-5 runs where he dragged a few defenders for extra yards.

- Nice job of Schaub standing there in the pocket and throwing under pressure in this game. When he does this, he’s likely to be successful because he has so many passing options it makes it hard for defenses to stop them.

Packers

- Aaron Rodgers missed a wide open Donald Driver for what likely would have been a 60-yard TD pass/catch early in the game. Rodgers overthrew him by a few yards.  He missed Driver again a few plays late on a third down play for a 20-yard play or more. Then on the next series, he hit Driver on a great throw to his right shoulder for 45 yards, but Driver was called for pushing off.

- Ryan Grant was running hard early on. They weren’t finding huge holes, but he was getting what was there.

- They were really trying to get Driver the ball in the first half. It appeared they were going after CB Jacques Reeves.

- Great throw by Rodgers down field late in the third quarter for a big completion. Rodgers threw the ball about 60 yards in the air through double coverage for the completion to Greg Jennings.

- Jordy Nelson was pretty involved in this game since Jennings wasn’t as involved. The guess is coverage dictated this.

- Grant ran really well in this game and looked like he did last year.
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Philadelphia Eagles at NY Giants

Eagles

- They really didn’t get anywhere on their first series. Donovan McNabb did a good job moving around in the pocket to create space. He did miss a wide open Kevin Curtis for a first down. McNabb threw the ball into the ground, which he does to often. This is because of poor balance and footwork that hasn’t been corrected for whatever reason.

- McNabb hit Kevin Curtis for a nice 30-yard pass play late in the first quarter. The pass came out of McNabb’s hand high but Curtis was able to reach up a little to get it.

- Smart move by Andy Reid to make Brian Westbrook the focal point of the offense instead of McNabb. I understand that it was hard to throw because of the wind, but McNabb can no longer carry a team, he just has to be part of the offense, not the main component.

- This might be the first time I’ve seen Westbrook have to grind out a game. There weren’t a lot of big holes, but he was able to keep his feet moving and Reid stayed on course with the run–shockingly.

- Hank Baskett, who is really an underrated player, made a few nice blocks on Westbrook runs.

- The much-maligned L.J. Smith had three catches for first downs where he had to run after the catch.

Giants

- On their first drive, the Eagles were all over the WRs when they caught the ball. No RAC yards. Brandon Jacobs had a nice first run then got shut down on his next one.

- You can clearly see Philly sent more defenders to the ball carrier early on. They were willing to cover the WRs one-one-one as opposed to doubling Plaxico Burress when he was playing.

- On the first drive of the second quarter, Domenik Hixon, as you probably know by now, dropped a pass from Eli Manning which was actually thrown 55 yards in the air perfectly and Hixon beat Sheldon Brown badly. It was an easy score and it went right through his hands. That one could haunt him for a long time. He can flat out run but his hands need improvement. He tends to catch the ball with his body at times.

- A few plays later on third down, Amani Toomer dropped a pass that I’m sure he would say he should have caught. They got bailed out on a defensive holding call.

- On the next play, big run by Jacobs on the right side, nice job of being patient and nice job of his OL of getting a push up front.

- Hixon then caught a pass later on with Asante Samuel on him over the middle. Nice job of concentration.

- Had Jacobs not gotten hurt in the middle of the third quarter, he may have put up over 100 yards. No one seems to recall he was running for over 5 yards/carry.

- There’s no question the Eagles didn’t fear the Giant passing game with Burress not there.

- Hixon made a great catch in the fourth quarter over the middle. He went up high to get it and SS Quintin Mikell his him on his way down, but he held on to it.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

Vikings

- They tried a lot of mis-direction plays that teams have used against the Lions, but to no avail early on.

- Visanthe Shiancoe was lined up out wide as a receiver on the first series.

- After Adrian Peterson’s early fumble, Chester Taylor came in for a few carries, then Peterson came back in.

- Late in the first quarter, Gus Frerotte threw a terrible INT. He threw it right to the defender with no WR anywhere close to him.

- Shiancoe was pretty active in the first half. It’s evident that since Bernard Berrian doesn’t command the ball at all, they’re looking for secondary options.

- Again, Shiancoe was lined up out wide early in the third quarter.

- The coaches did a nice job of calling designed reads and throws for Tarvaris Jackson to make and he was able to be accurate. Basically shorter drops and he would make a quick read and then got it out of his hands.

- Nice job by Jackson on two second half throws. One was on his TD throw to Shiancoe, which was right on the money on a short pass. The other one required him to get it to Bobby Wade’s right shoulder on a third down play. The pass was right where it needed to be.

Lions

- Kevin Smith had a nice first series, but his lack of explosion was really evident on one run in particular. He changed direction nicely, but couldn’t get up field. A defender fell then got up and made the tackle. On the next play, Smith hit on a nice long run through a big hole.

- It was surprising at the holes Smith was able to run through in the first half. He did find running room on many of his carries.

- Not having Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey certainly was a problem in the first half. Daunte Culpepper just couldn’t find any reliable targets since Calvin Johnson wasn’t getting open.

- If I’m not mistaken, Johnson’s first catch of the game came early in the third quarter on his TD catch. The pass was nicely thrown and Johnson beat double coverage, especially Cedric Griffin who doesn’t run that well.

- Smith really ran hard in this game and ran with good vision. He kept his legs moving all the time and was able to get yards after contact. He’s shown as the season has progressed that they can move the ball with him if they are willing to give him enough carries.
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Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears

Jaguars

- Terrible throw by David Garrard for an early first quarter INT which eventually ended up as a TD for the Bears. He threw it right to S Danieal Manning.

- Good to see them getting Maurice Jones-Drew a lot of touches early in this game. But MJD got some of his catches it seemed on check downs as the last passing option though. So it wasn’t like they tried to get him more touches.

- Bad call on a fourth down play in the third quarter. They play faked the ball to MDJ and threw it to FB Montell Owens who looked like he never caught the ball before in his life. He fought the ball and bobbled it. They should have at least used Fred Taylor and MJD lined up in the same back field and faked it to one of them and thrown it to the other one. Both of those guys clearly have better hands than Owens.

- Matt Jones didn’t catch his first pass until mid way through the third quarter. Part of that was because of time of possession which was in Chicago’s favor, but Jones also wasn’t getting open enough.

- The Jaguar WRs and TEs are still so slow. They can’t consistently win their individual matchups and it makes it harder for Garrard to put up consistent numbers.

Bears

- Kyle Orton threw the ball behind Desmond Clark for what would have been Clark’s second TD of the first quarter. Clark split between two defenders, but Orton threw it just behind him.

- Orton doesn’t look quite as sharp as he did before his ankle injury.

- Matt Forte had two big runs up the middle in the first half, but other than that, Jacksonville’s defense controlled him well. He did make some nice catches in the game and they lined him up out wide a few times.

- It’s obvious that they want Devin Hester to be their big play WR. They tried to get him the ball in a variety of ways in this game.
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Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans

Browns

- Give Ken Dorsey credit on their first drive. He made a great throw under duress to Braylon Edwards for a nice gain over the middle. Dorsey is usually very careful with the ball, but this was actually a stick throw of sorts.

- As the first half progressed, you can really see how limited Dorsey is as a passer. They couldn’t run the ball at all, which forced him to throw and he couldn’t make many plays. Dorsey has a funky delivery.

- Dorsey flat-out can’t throw and has no business being in the league other than for being a mentor to Brady Quinn.  I’d say he makes Sean Hill look like John Elway.

- I would expect the Eagles to shut out Cleveland on Monday night unless they turn the ball over.

- Josh Cribbs threw a nice deep pass to Edwards for 50 yards, but it was ruled that he was out of bounds. Cribbs lined up in the backfield 6-7 times, at least 5 times as a QB.

Titans

- Unbelievable change of direction run for a first down by Chris Johnson on a third and 16 play. They ran a draw and he just changed directions and ran around end.

- As Kerry Collins started to get more time to throw, he started to find open WRs/TEs in the first half. Cleveland just doesn’t have a consistent pass rush or a good secondary.

- Nice job of Collins on the run finding a Justin Gage open for a TD catch early in the second half. It was a short throw, but CB Eric Wright gives up about half a foot to the taller Gage who was able to catch the high pass.

- Johnson had a great game and ran with great vision. He made the most of the holes that were there and he found open space as he went along. He was in there late in the game until three minutes were left.

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

Bengals

- Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to lock on to T.J. Housmandzadeh. Part of that is because TE Ben Utecht, who was supposed to be an intermediate passing option, has been hurt for most of the season.

- Chad Johnson didn’t start the game for disiplinary reasons. He came in on their second series. He wasn’t in there late in the half though for whatever reason in a four-WR set.

- Fitzpatrick did what he could in the first half, but they started playing the younger WRs who he doesn’t have good timing with.

- Johnson was in there in the second half, not that it made any difference.

Colts

- Joseph Addai’s first two runs were solid. The first was on a stretch play for 5 yards. The next was a cut back run for 16 yards, but it was called back due to a penalty. He also had a nice slot screen catch on that drive and also a nice run around right end. Later on that drive, Dominic Rhodes took over and had a nifty TD run.

- Peyton Manning got in a rhythm early with the short passing game. He went with shorter throws to Reggie Wayne, TE Gijon Robinson, and Dallas Clark.

- Clark fumbled away a TD catch. Right before he was to enter the endzone, he fumbled the ball and the Bengals recovered.

- He missed Wayne late in the first half on a 40-yard pass. Manning floated it too much to the right and Wayne dove for it, but couldn’t haul it in.

- The RB rotation in this game seemed to be 2-1 Addai in the first half.

- Nice play on the quick slant for the long Marvin Harrison 67-yard catch and run. He looked fast there, but he was caught inside the five-yardline. 

- On the next play, Manning threaded the needed between two defenders to Dallas Clark for the short score.

- Addai started the second half, but didn’t appear to have played after their first offensive series because of injury. It’s a shame because Addai broke off some decent runs in the first half and could have wound up with a decent game.

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos

Chiefs

- They still are having trouble with Larry Johnson running from shotgun formation. He doesn’t seem very comfortable doing so. They ran one play from under center in the redzone which went for little gain.

- While he had an up and down first half, great job Tyler Thigpen on their second quarter scoring drive. He threaded a great short pass to Tony Gonzalez in between two defenders. Unless the ball was perfect, it would have been picked off of deflected. Gonzalez later scored on the drive on a roll out by Thigpen. Gonzo got matched up on rookie CB Josh Bell who is at least 50 pounds lighter. Talk about a mis-match.

- Thigpen’s lack of arm strength was apparent on a deep pass in the second quarter. There was too much air on the pass which was just over 40 yards. His best passes are 25 yards and in. That’s why Gonzalez has been so involved each week.

- It was the Bowe/Gonzalez show in this game. Not having Mark Bradley did hurt a little bit as the game progressed.

- Thigpen made a nice thrown in the third quarter down field to rookie WR Will Franklin. It went right through his hands. Had he caught it, he would have been taken down at the one yardline.

Broncos

- Unreal throw by Jay Cutler that wound up being called incomplete in the first quarter. He threw it to the right of the defender after moving up in the pocket and threw off of one foot. It went to Brandon Marshall’s right shoulder where that was really the only place he could catch it.

- Cutler’s INT for a TD was simply a situation where the CB read his eyes and Cutler never saw him.

- Peyton Hillis again did a good job of sustaining his runs and he keeps his legs moving.

- Eddie Royal hardly was involved until late in the first half. The passing game went mostly through Brandon Marshall then Brandon Stokley.

- Cutler led a great late second quarter drive culminating in a TD to Marshall in back of the right of the end zone. He threw it to the right corner only where Marshall could go get it. Marshall just used his his long reach to haul it in. Teams simply are not giving them anything deep so Cutler is taking what the defense is giving him-mostly 20 yards and in. And unlike last season, he’s not forcing it and his mechanics are better.

- The play in which ended Hillis’ season was a great catch by him. He went high in the air between two defenders and he came down ackwardly.

- With Hillis gone, Tatum Bell handled all the carries, but was unimpressive.

- Cutler started to spread the ball around in the third quarter to Dan Graham, Tony Scheffler, and Royal. Even Darrell Jackson caught a pass. You can see how hard it is for teams to defend the Denver offense because they have so many passing options.

New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks

Patriots

- Sammy Morris had all the carries in the first quarter.

- The first play of the game, Matt Cassel was under center, but after that, he was in shotgun.

- Kevin Faulk came in during passing situations.

- Randy Moss was able to beat double coverage down the middle of the field late in the first quarter, but Cassel overthrew him. Moss beat the coverage by 5 yards. It was a fake end around and the play developed nicely.

- LaMont Jordan got some carries in the second quarter.

- Great throw by Cassel to Ben Watson for a TD. Cassel looked left then looked right and threw it to Watson in the the back of the endzone. One of the most impressive things about Cassel is his patience and how he doesn’t get jittery in the pocket. That wasn’t the case earlier in the season.

- If you want to know why Watson hasn’t been a bigger factor the last two seasons, just watch them play. Welker is their safety valve or short passing option, not Watson. It’s bascially Welker or Moss on every play or Faulk on a passing down check down. Every once in a while someone else gets a pass thrown their way.

- Faulk, Morris, and Jordan all got carries in the 4th quarter. Faulk almost scored on a 6-yard run. He fell just short at the 1 and Jordan scored two plays later.

- The one area where Cassel is clearly not as good as Tom Brady is on deeper passes. Cassel puts too much air under the ball. Brady throws the ball with more velocity. They tried to get Moss deep at least three times that I saw.

Seahawks

- Maurice Morris and FB Leonard Weaver split the carries in the first quarter.

- It was obvious that the coaching staff wanted Seneca Wallace to get rid of the ball quickly on mostly three step drops. Smart move and Wallace went with the short passing game to John Carlson in the first quarter.

- Wallace is a short to intermediate thrower so I’d expect Carlson to get a lot of looks and that continued in the first half.

- Nice play for a TD to Deion Branch. Branch got one on one coverage against CB/S Brandon Meriweather.

- Morris looked good in the first half on most of his runs. He showed a nice burst on some runs and was able to get to the outside. Weaver also ran well inside. I can see why they didn’t use Julius Jones.

- Great throw by Wallace over Meriweather’s head and into Carlson’s hands on a second quarter drive. He placed it over a defender which isn’t easy to do.

- Later on this drive, Carlson got matched up on Junior Seau one-one-one and Carlson beat him for a TD. Seau was too late in reacting.

- Morris didn’t have the same success in the second half. He couldn’t find any room to run.

- Weaver had a long run called back by a penalty.

- Branch had an amazing play in the third quarter. He wasn’t the first option on the play, but was thrown the ball at the last second on a check down. Branch caught the ball on one side and crossed all the way to the other side en route for a big play. He stopped and started and faked a few defenders out on the play. It was obvious in this game that he’s finally healthy.

Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers

CowboysThe ball didn’t come out of Tony Romo’s hands well in the first quarter. The wind was strong in the first quarter, but it still looked like his passes were off the mark.

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- On his first INT, Terrell Owens clearly didn’t finish off his route for some reason.

- Almost every throw in the first half from Romo was high.

- While he didn’t break off any big runs in the first half, Tashard Choice got positive yards on almost every touch he had.

- Roy Williams was virtually a non-factor again as he has been since they traded for him. Keep in Romo and Williams have had very little practice time together so trust and timing won’t be on course until next season.

- The play from Romo to Owens for a TD in the third quarter was amazing. He scrambed around for 12 seconds in the pocket and never lost his downfield focus. He threw it to the back middle of the endzone and the DB had his back turned to Romo threw it over his head.

- Choice’s big pass play actually should have been a TD. He made some nice moves, but you can see clearly he lacks breakaway speed.

Steelers

- Ben Roethlisberger had a hard time throwing the ball in the first quarter probably because of the wind. Most of the passes were thrown too low.

- The restriction of the passing game could have been caused by the cold weather. It may have made it hard to grip the ball. Anything thrown past 20 yards, died.

- They just couldn’t get anything really going on offense through three quarters. Roethlisberger did hit Santonio Holmes on a few passes, one looked to be more than 10 yards.

- Roethlisberger missed Holmes open for a TD early in the fourth quarter. Holmes beat Terence Newman for what would have been a short TD. He had him beat by a few yards but the pass went too far ahead.

New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers

Jets

- They couldn’t get much going in the first quarter and the passing game was short. There was one deep throw, but it was well covered.

- Thomas Jones really should have gotten the ball more in the first half.

- For whatever reason, Chansi Stuckey was really involved in the first half, yet their two veteran starters weren’t despite CB Nate Clements being out.

- Jones made a great cut back run on his third quarter TD.

- Because the passing game was mostly ineffective, they should have made Jones the foundation of the offense here.

49ers

- Shaun Hill really played well in the first quarter and he had a lot of time to throw the ball.

- Interestingly, Michael Robinson played in front of DeShaun Foster in the first half as he has for several weeks. Robinson lined up as a fullback. However, he also had a bad fumble which resulted in a turnover in the first quarter. That could explain why Foster later took over when Frank Gore got hurt.

- The Jet defense really wasn’t aggressive for the whatever reason.

- Jason Hill fumbled the ball at the 1-yardline, but it was recovered for a score.

- Hill took mostly deeper drops in this game and that helped him create time to get rid of the football. That helped negate the NYJ pressure.

- Gore had a really solid first half. That was the best I’ve seen him run in weeks.

- Gore got hurt early in the second half. Foster replaced him and fumbled on their second series. Robinson came back in for a run then Foster came back in.

- Isaac Bruce is clearly Hill’s go-to WR and is most reliable one.

- Hill had a TD called back late in the third quarter. It was a nice pass over the defenders over the middle to TE Delanie Walker.

- Hill continued to find time to throw and was able to drive the team down for a score in the fourth quarter on  a pass to Bryant Johnson who was also more involved in this game.

- Foster was unimpressive in this game. He got plenty of carries, but couldn’t get it going.

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