FanDuel - WFBC

December 15, 2013

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 50 comments

Jamaal Charles is absolutely destroying the Raiders.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:48 PM on December 15

This could end up being my favorite Romo loss of all time.

posted by phaedon at 07:27 PM on December 15

Tom Coughlin should go. And take Eli Manning with him.

posted by dyams at 08:09 PM on December 15

Time for a bit of a rant about football color analysts and NFL officiating in general: Twice today there were non-calls of pass interference late in the game, one in NE-Miami, and the other in Green Bay-Dallas. Both calls were "tight", but still quite obvious, even in "real" time. In both cases, the color analyst made some comment about the referees "letting them play", one actually referencing that little time remained in the game, and the other not directly saying it, rather inferring it. My rant is that if said analysts think it might have been called in the first quarter, why do they think the referees should not call it late in the fourth. If there's no consistency in officiating, then say so. Don't try to make me believe that there is a secret section of the NFL rule book that applies only to the last 5 minutes of a game. This sort of inconsistency is just one more argument in favor of the NFL hiring full-time officials whose only job would be officiating. Sure, they only work once per week, but the rest of their week would be spent in much the same way players spend theirs - studying film and practicing. A crew would be able to critique their previous performances, with some league guidance in cases of poor performance. A couple of days could be spent scouting the next game, and practice on crew coordination, positioning, and field coverage would be useful. In other words, in a game being played by high-paid players, coached by high-paid coaches, in front of tens of thousands of fans at the stadium and possibly millions more on TV, with millions of dollars in playoff appearance money riding on the game, using amateurs, or at best semi-professionals, as officials is ridiculous.

posted by Howard_T at 08:53 PM on December 15

So the last time Matt Damon Flynn had a crazy-ass game with the Packers, he got a $9M guaranteed contract and started one game for it. Think anyone will be throwing money at him for this one?

posted by Etrigan at 09:02 PM on December 15

This sort of inconsistency is just one more argument in favor of the NFL hiring full-time officials whose only job would be officiating. Sure, they only work once per week, but the rest of their week would be spent in much the same way players spend theirs - studying film and practicing. A crew would be able to critique their previous performances, with some league guidance in cases of poor performance. A couple of days could be spent scouting the next game, and practice on crew coordination, positioning, and field coverage would be useful.

Did you see Peter King's Game 150 on MMQB recently? They pretty much do all this stuff already.

And even if they're full-time employees, they're still going to call games differently at the end of the game than the beginning, because "Let them play" is a refrain at every level of every sport. Knowing when to call a ricky-tick penalty early so as to set the tone and keep things from escalating vs. knowing when not to call a ricky-tick penalty late so as not to become the story -- that's a skill.

posted by Etrigan at 09:06 PM on December 15

NBC is definitely not showing enough replays of the Cincinnati punter getting de-cleated during a punt return. They should use that as a bumper video for the NFL's new PR campaign they've got going on.

posted by Bonkers at 09:29 PM on December 15

Bengals punter Kevin Huber had a rough night. First - a fumbled punt at the 1 yard line that lead to a Pittsburgh touchdown. Then:

The result was a TD punt return and a broken jaw. Yikes.

posted by dfleming at 09:29 PM on December 15

Think anyone will be throwing money at him for this one?

No. The Cowboys are really bad on D right now. The opportunities that Flynn got were a result of some atrocious clock management and offensive play-calling on the other side. Plus, teams could look to the previous two games for some regression back to the mean.

posted by dfleming at 09:50 PM on December 15

Time for a bit of a rant about football color analysts and NFL officiating in general:

The good news is it's not every officiating crew. Last week one crew called the barest of touches for Pass Interference at the very end of a game.

I forget who the Browns were playing.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:31 PM on December 15

Perhaps the Cowboys could consider using four linebackers in a full house backfield during the last several minutes of the game for the remainder of the Romo era.

posted by beaverboard at 06:47 AM on December 16

Last week one crew called the barest of touches for Pass Interference at the very end of a game

Time for a bit of a rant about football color analysts and NFL officiating in general

What I see this year is a lot more contact allowed by both the receiver and the defender throughout the game, followed by brutal pass interference calls being made in critical situations for less contact at the end of games.

Officials should never decide games. If they let contact go throughout, they must let the same contact go at the end.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:10 AM on December 16

The Dallas defense gives up five touchdowns in one half and people are still making this about Romo. His last pick was because an inexperienced receiver cut short a route. Even the best quarterbacks throw a few picks like that.

He wasn't blameless -- he threw another pick by underthrowing a receiver in a mad scramble -- but it's not just him. Dallas is not going anywhere with that defense. It would be a miracle for them to get past Philly in a deciding game to win the East.

Like the broadcast booth, I don't understand why Dallas ran so little in the fourth quarter. I'm thinking a total coaching purge is a good idea, since the real solution of hiring a GM is not a possibility.

posted by rcade at 10:11 AM on December 16

Tony Romo has it so good in Dallas, it's crazy. He's the Jay Leno of football.

posted by phaedon at 11:24 AM on December 16

Did you see Peter King's Game 150 on MMQB recently? They pretty much do all this stuff already.

I strongly recommend reading the series if you have not already. It is a three part series and provides a great look into the preparation and mindset of NFL officials.

The Dallas defense gives up five touchdowns in one half and people are still making this about Romo. His last pick was because an inexperienced receiver cut short a route. Even the best quarterbacks throw a few picks like that.

I agree with you but Romo also deserves his fair share of blame for the last play. He audibled out of a called run play at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line is run blocking and Demarco Murray was clearly expecting a run play.

Edit: If the left tackle had known it was a pass they probably would have completed it. Beasley was open initially but Matthews had a clear path to Romo.

some_text

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 12:05 PM on December 16

NFL refereeing inconsistency: The Seahawk DBs play over the line as a matter of course and because that's "how they play" are rarely called for interference. Said a disgruntled 49er fan...

posted by billsaysthis at 12:08 PM on December 16

Let's not pretend like that pass to Dez in the end zone wasn't a hot turd as well.

posted by phaedon at 12:12 PM on December 16

I agree with you but Romo also deserves his fair share of blame for the last play. He audibled out of a called run play at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line is run blocking and Demarco Murray was clearly expecting a run play.

Edit: If the left tackle had known it was a pass they probably would have completed it. Beasley was open initially but Matthews had a clear path to Romo.

If you go with Tim Hasselbeck's dissection of the play then this is an artifact of the play calling style in Dallas. The call that came into Romo's helmet would have been "[name of run play] "x-flash" - that x-flash is a "tag" on the end of the call meaning it's a designated run all the way, but if there's a favourable matchup, then Romo can decide to pass instead to the "X" receiver.

The key part is that even if Romo decides to pass, this is communicated to no one else. The line will still run block and Murray will still hit his hand-off point.

Hasselbeck said that some teams will just not send in a "tagged" play toward the end, preferring instead to run into ten defenders. However, he went on to say that it's Romo's responsibility to understand that if he goes to the tag, then he must understand what this means with regards to the run play blocking that's called.

Firstly, the player responsible for blocking Matthews is the Tight End on the right hand side (#89) - he has to cross all the way over the formation to get there. With this is mind Romo must pass the ball off a one step drop or else Matthews is completely unblocked. After the game you can hear Romo talk about how he expected Matthews to read the left tackle's "down" block, diagnose run and take himself out of the play. Instead he ignores the tackle's block direction and runs straight to Romo.

This is the point where what follows is on Romo - he escapes Matthews, but at that point he can throw the ball away or, better yet, run or fall to the floor and eat the ball - both of those options, (run/fall over), keep the clock running.

Of course, if he does run back to the LoS and slide and the Cowboys then punt, you're still relying on the Cowboy defence to stop the Packers driving ~70 yards in two minutes with a time out. But at least then the conversation isn't Romo chokes part 643.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:30 PM on December 16

Prognostication: Imagine if Lane Kiffin ends up in Texas.

posted by phaedon at 12:31 PM on December 16

I don't understand why Dallas ran so little in the fourth quarter...

I brought that up when Dallas lost to Denver 51-48 a few weeks ago.

This has been an on-going theme with the Cowboys and I'm getting sick of it! All they had to do was run the ball considering DeMarco Murray was averaging 8 yards per carry and let the Packers burn their timeouts. To unnecessarily keep chucking the ball was such a mistake that I knew when they abandoned the run that they were going to lose.

posted by BornIcon at 12:31 PM on December 16

Prognostication: Imagine if Lane Layla Kiffin ends up in Texas.

Fixed.

posted by BornIcon at 12:36 PM on December 16

I didn't know Romo called that pass. He changes a play, makes a spectacularly impossible move dodging Matthews and it enables him to throw the ill-advised pass that gets picked. His career in a nutshell.

posted by rcade at 12:36 PM on December 16

I didn't know Romo called that pass.

Garrett was also coy about how many other plays were called runs that Romo called an audible on. He claimed he "didn't have that information on him" - which indicates more than one.

I kind of wonder now if Dallas' inability to stick to the run is a coaching design issue or just a QB who really wants to be "the guy" even if it's situationally not the right move and has the latitude to do so.

posted by dfleming at 12:46 PM on December 16

I kind of wonder now if Dallas' inability to stick to the run is a coaching design issue or just a QB who really wants to be "the guy" even if it's situationally not the right move

Well, at some point, if the QB keeps changing your run plays into pass plays, the coach has to drop the hammer and either not call plays with that possibility or put in a QB who'll just hand off the ball.

posted by LionIndex at 12:55 PM on December 16

the coach has to drop the hammer and either not call plays with that possibility or put in a QB who'll just hand off the ball.

You have Tim Tebow's attention, now.

posted by grum@work at 01:01 PM on December 16

The result was a TD punt return and a broken jaw. Yikes.

How the fuck is that not a penalty to the Steelers player?

It's a blow to the head (helmet to jaw, hence the break), and it's on a defenceless player (not expecting a hit, doesn't have the ball).

This is the sort of thing they need to take out of the game. There isn't any reason that the Pittsburgh player had to hit him that hard in the head.

posted by grum@work at 01:04 PM on December 16

Imagine if Lane Layla Kiffin ends up in Texas.

Is that Jim Mora in the background calling bullshit?

posted by phaedon at 01:19 PM on December 16

This is the sort of thing they need to take out of the game. There isn't any reason that the Pittsburgh player had to hit him that hard in the head.

I was pretty taken aback at how nobody in the play-by-play even questioned it. He wasn't even looking - so a simple hands-based block would've easily taken down the punter. It was totally unnecessary, and I suspect if it was a QB on a pick return, it would've resulted in a personal foul.

posted by dfleming at 01:28 PM on December 16

It's a blow to the head (helmet to jaw, hence the break), and it's on a defenceless player (not expecting a hit, doesn't have the ball).

This is the sort of thing they need to take out of the game. There isn't any reason that the Pittsburgh player had to hit him that hard in the head.

From ESPN's department of euphamism game recap "Huber took a hard hit from Pittsburgh's Terence Garvin during the return."

Like Bonkers said previously, the NFL can use that video to show how sincere it is about protecting players from concussions and targeting the head. It will fine and penalize defensive backs who contact the head when both players are running full speed, but it seems to be ok for a 230 lb linebacker to seek out a punter who is walking and launch at his jaw head first. It was a deliberate attempt to injure, had no impact on the play, and is the kind of shit that ends careers. If Garvin isn't fined for the hit, the NFL's anti-concussion campaign is bullshit.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:31 PM on December 16

Kevin Huber wasn't walking, he was covering the punt and moving towards the returner to attempt to catch him. Terence Garvin's block had an impact on the play, because Huber was extremely close to the returner when he was hit. If you look above, you'll see that Antonio Brown has to step over the leg of the blocker who hit Huber. If an unblocked Huber slowed down Brown even a little, it might have been enough for another Bengals player to catch him.

As for the hit itself, punt and interception returns often have devastating blocks when a person in coverage doesn't see the blocker. That doesn't make Garvin's block OK -- he went in too high and should be fined for the head hit -- but I don't know that we can assume it was a deliberate intent to injure.

It was a hard block that helped free Brown. I fear the same kind of block happening to quarterbacks any time they throw a possible pick-6. Some of the cagier vets, such as Peyton Manning, are experts at looking like they are chasing the intercepting player without really doing much. I think they're more concerned with their own well-being than in making a tackle.

The block reminds me of Hines Ward decapitating Ed Reed in 2010. Ward wasn't fined.

posted by rcade at 04:09 PM on December 16

The majority of that rant may have been related to my Bengals fan bias. Watching the .gif, Huber was moving in the direction of Brown. It looks like he had just taken his first step in that direction when Garvin hit him at full speed. But it was still a player running full speed at one who was not and intentionally leading with the crown of his helmet as he hit Huber's facemask. Cracking his vertebrate?

I don't know that we can assume it was a deliberate intent to injure.

We don't need to. I will. To me, it is impossible to call a blindside hit while leading with the crown of the helmet anything else. And like I said before, it's not like it was a WR and a DB converging at full speed. It was one player targeting another.

And Hines Ward was a dirty fucking player, as his peers consistently recognized. Ward wasn't fined for that hit, but the NFL also hadn't just settled a lawsuit relating to the lasting affects of concussions and "dedicated" itself to solving the problem.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:27 PM on December 16

This is the sort of thing they need to take out of the game. There isn't any reason that the Pittsburgh player had to hit him that hard

Could just as easily have been talking about the NHL.

posted by beaverboard at 06:59 PM on December 16

I have no Steeler or Bengal dog in this fight, and that was a dirty fucking hit. Garvin launched the crown of his helmet right into Huber's chin instead of keeping his head up and leading with his hands. They could put that shot on a poster and label it "THE NFL: We care about player safety as long as you're making us more money than a punter."

posted by Etrigan at 07:35 PM on December 16

We don't need to. I will. To me, it is impossible to call a blindside hit while leading with the crown of the helmet anything else.

I think you underestimate the speed of the game and the margin of error for a clean block vs. a dirty one. They weren't playing in slo-mo. Watch the play in real time. An argument can be made that he was lining him up for a chest block and came in higher than he intended. Garvin doesn't stop to enjoy his handiwork -- he makes the block and moves on looking for someone else to block.

The consequences of his hit are enough justification for a heavy fine. Unless he comes out and says he was trying to light the punter up on purpose, let's not pretend we can read his mind.

posted by rcade at 09:44 PM on December 16

I think you underestimate the speed of the game and the margin of error for a clean block vs. a dirty one. They weren't playing in slo-mo.

The NFL has placed the onus of avoiding hitting another player in the chin with the top of one's helmet on the person who's about to hit another player in the chin with the top of his helmet. If Garvin isn't good enough to do that, then he's too dangerous to be allowed to play.

posted by Etrigan at 10:08 PM on December 16

I think it's the nature of the NFL now that you can do pretty much everything correctly and still get fined. If the punter sees that hit coming he's going to lower himself enough to brace for the impact and he probably wouldn't catch that under the chin like he did. The margins are razor thin and the game isn't played in slo-motion. Though, I'm okay with the fines. I think it's just going to be part of the game now that if you want to hit people hard you have to be willing to take a financial hit. I'm just not willing to call the guy dirty. Reckless, sure, but not dirty.

posted by tron7 at 11:30 PM on December 16

If Garvin isn't good enough to do that, then he's too dangerous to be allowed to play.

I'm happy that players are expected to be less reckless and dangerous. The league needs to do everything it can to end helmet-first hits. If Garvin is fined or suspended because of the consequences of his hit, independent of the intent, I wouldn't have a problem with that.

posted by rcade at 08:20 AM on December 17

Unless he comes out and says he was trying to light the punter up on purpose, let's not pretend we can read his mind.

I don't think it takes a mind reader. He lowers his head and lunges into the hit. There's very few ways that collision could have played out any differently. If the continuum of culpability lies somewhere in between intent to injure and reckless indifference to safety, I'm willing to go ahead and call it intent.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:14 AM on December 17

He lowers his head and lunges into the hit.

Players do that all the time in football and were taught to do it going back to Pop Warner. That's why the Heads Up Tackling movement is being undertaken.

If you think you can read the mind of a football player who dishes out a brutal hit and they never injure without intent, you don't understand the game. There's no factual basis for your certainty he did it on purpose. It's pure conjecture.

For his part, Garvin said he wasn't aiming for Huber's jaw. "I just saw a white shirt. ... I was just trying to throw a block to spring [Brown]. I thought I hit him in his chest; I was aiming for his chest."

One thing the photo at that link shows is how low to the ground Huber was when he was blocked. He was running laterally from right to left and his legs were spread wide.

Here's more background on Garvin, an undrafted rookie who has played every game for Pittsburgh this season.

posted by rcade at 11:35 AM on December 17

If you think you can read the mind of a football player who dishes out a brutal hit and they never injure without intent, you don't understand the game.

I understand football and the NFL enough to know that players, particularly special teams players and blockers, take great pride in not only blocking someone, but "lighting him up." The culture of the NFL has always celebrated the big hit, the "de-cleater," getting "jacked up," etc. I don't think it takes a walk out on a very long limb to assume that Garvin saw Huber with his head turned and decided to "light him up." But the fact is that he "lit him up" by lowering his head and yes, lunging from low to high into the hit.

"I thought I hit him in his chest; I was aiming for his chest."

Obviously, I believe that statement to be bullshit. But my opinion aside, even if he was aiming for the chest, he led with the crown of his helmet rather than his shoulder pads.

I don't know whether I'm happy about it or not, but Deadspin sees it my way. It also discusses pretty well why the punter on a return is a protected player and the hit on the punter was well beyond the black and white rules of the game. So whether or not you believe it was dirty, it was clearly illegal.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:37 PM on December 17

The hit was undoubtedly illegal and should've been flagged, calling back the touchdown..

If Garvin had caught Huber entirely in the chest, where it started, it would've been a legal hit. There are many brutal hits in the NFL that are completely legal. A player can desire to light up an opponent without intending to hurt him or engage in an illegal hit.

I guess what I'm looking for here is an acknowledgement that in an extremely fast and violent sport, the margin of error between a brutal acceptable hit and a brutal unacceptable one is extremely slim, and sometimes a player crosses it without intending to do so.

posted by rcade at 01:09 PM on December 17

what I'm looking for here is an acknowledgement that in an extremely fast and violent sport, the margin of error between a brutal acceptable hit and a brutal unacceptable one is extremely slim, and sometimes a player crosses it without intending to do so.

Acknowledged. The game is fast and violent, and the margin of error is small. I understand that unintentional hits to the head happen all the time, and inertia isn't just a good idea; it's the law. I just think this incident falls outside of the realm of unintentional.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:21 PM on December 17

If the NFL wants blows to the head stop, then they need to take each blow to the head personally. As Michael Corleone would say:

Tom, don't let anybody kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That's what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal Like God. He knows every feather that falls from the tail of a sparrow or however the hell it goes? Right? And you know something? Accidents don't happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult.

posted by offsides at 12:36 PM on December 18

As Michael Corleone would say:

Adopt this attitude, and we will soon see the headline: "Sudden epidemic of broken legs in off-ice incidents strikes NHL players". The league will employ a team of "enforcement" personnel, all with names like Bruno, Luigi, ar Salvatore, to oversee the head injury prevention program. If nothing else works, this would be a sure-fire plan.

posted by Howard_T at 02:35 PM on December 18

all with names like Bruno, Luigi, ar Salvatore,

Bruno
Luigi's brother Mario
Salvatore

posted by grum@work at 02:49 PM on December 18

Ma, you do not wanna go watch a hockey game, trust me. They clean the ice with a zampogna.

posted by beaverboard at 03:42 PM on December 18

A nice update on the landscape after the hit. It seems like Huber doesn't have any hard feelings, and is taking it all in stride. Garvin's wallet will be about $25,000 lighter than it was. Garvin stands by the story that the hit was not intended to be malicious. I suppose I believe him, but will not shed a tear if something bad happens to him at the hands of another player who plays with reckless disregard for the safety of his colleagues.

Still bitter about the bad call that should have invalidated the punt return and possibly altered the direction that game was heading. But hey, every team gets hosed a few times every season. Suck it up and win the next two.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:22 PM on December 18

It seems like Huber doesn't have any hard feelings, and is taking it all in stride.

Meh. Huber knows which side his bread is buttered on.

posted by Etrigan at 07:27 PM on December 18

Huber's being exceptionally fair. The cracked verterbrae is terrifying. If I was him, I'd be wondering how close it came to being catastrophic.

I'm surprised Garvin didn't make the effort to call him by now. He ended Huber's season and broke his jaw. A call to talk about the play and express good wishes for his full recovery is the right thing to do.

posted by rcade at 09:27 PM on December 18

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.