Week 12 Observations

How odd was it on Thanksgiving when Justin Forsett was awarded a touchdown on a play where his knee and arm were clearly down due to technicality most people didn't even know about? Apparently, I never realized the extent to which coaches needlessly throwing challenge flags on scoring plays was ruining the game. If you really want to stop coaches from wrongly throwing challenge flags, why not simply behead them at the 50 yard line? It would be only slightly more heavy handed than the current rule and far more effective. Plus, it wouldn't ruin the cover for someone who had the Lions +3 at home.

Brandon Pettigrew is a worse version of Jermichael Finley - someone who drops passes and fumbles, but offers even less upside. Ryan Broyles is the only Lions receiver who might be capable of making other teams think twice about devoting their entire secondary to Calvin Johnson.

Whitney Mercilus has a great last name for a linebacker.

The only thing capable of slowing Andre Johnson thus far in his career has been injuries and a run-heavy system bolstered by a top defense. Now that the Texans run blocking is average and the defense has slipped without Jonathan Joseph, Johnson is obviously still a top-five receiver. (That might change again when Joseph returns, though).

I didn't watch much of the Dallas-Washington game, but if you weren't convinced last week RGIII is better than Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and other QBs of that ilk already, maybe his decimation of the Cowboys defense persuaded you.

The Jets giving up 35 points in the second quarter was funny. So was Tom Brady racking up fantasy points up 30 with four minutes left.

It boggles the mind C.J. Spiller once again had just 14 carries after the Bills vowed to get him more work. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry, but of course Ryan Fitzpatrick had to attempt 33 passes at 5.5 per, not counting a pick and two sacks.

Reggie Wayne got another 14 targets Sunday and now has 144 targets in 11 games, a pace for 209. The last five years, the league leaders in targets had: 181, 179, 170 and 183, 170, respectively.

The difference between the Steelers and Browns is six points when Pittsburgh turns it over seven times on the road with its third string QB.

The Raiders are unbelievably bad right now. Say what you want about Al Davis, but whatever succeeded him is worse.

Russell Wilson is already a good quarterback, but you have to fade Seattle blindly on the road (and back them at home) until the market adjusts.

The Falcons are still a fraud, but they won because the Bucs are even more of a fraud. It was nice of Matt Bryant to miss the short FG at the end and leave me with a push, though. Trying a 56-yard FG, down one, on 4th-and-7 with 3:32 left was a questionable decision by Greg Schiano. Assuming the likelihood of success of converting was about equal to making the FG, I'd rather convert and have a new set of downs to burn clock and possibly score a touchdown. Moreover, you save seven yards of field possession of you don't make it.

Chad Henne got 10 yards per attempt Sunday and spread the ball to Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts and Marcedes Lewis. It was the Titans defense, but still - a nice follow-up to the Texans game for all three.

The key to enjoying the Chargers is to see them for what they are: performance art. I found this week's collapse on 4th and 29 both creative and inspiring. The execution was masterful. It really looked like they were trying to tackle Ray Rice, but just couldn't do it. Appreciate the greatness while you still can.

Colin Kaepernick played well (9.2 YPA), no sacks, just one pick, but he wasn't as sharp as last week, it was against the Saints and the team staked him to two pick sixes. There's some upside here, but it's probably more Russell Wilson than RGIII.

There's no truth to the rumor Vernon Davis wants Alex Smith back at quarterback.

It was awfully nice of the Packers to run the ball 23 times while having Aaron Rodgers throw only 25 passes despite being down big most of the game. The field-goal on 4th and 1 from the 11 down 17, and the 55-yard attempt early in the game were also gifts.

In games against the 49ers and Packers this year, the Giants have scored 64 points and allowed 13.


By: matthewthill7
On: 11/26/2012 8:41:00 AM
Really curious playcalling by the Packers. Should have been one of those games where Rodgers throws 40+ times.
By: taborp
On: 11/26/2012 9:12:00 AM
It may be hard to tell with only 25 pass attempts by Rodgers on Sunday, but it seems he is a little too locked in on Cobb these days. I saw at least two plays where Jones' defender let him run by so that the defender could break to Cobb. Rodgers never took advantage. Also, any attempt to get Finley more involved than what he earns (1-2 looks per game) is a waste. GB was most effective when Rodgers was using his full arsenal...hitting whomever was open. Obviously, he's been under a lot of pressure in the pocket lately, and the pressure may be pushing him to his first/most-trusted read. Perhaps this problem is also linked to the play calling, which I agree was abysmal under the circumstances.
By: Scott Pianowski
On: 11/26/2012 9:58:00 AM
You have to keep picking the Chargers - if you don't, you're denying us the art of Norv Turner.
By: quails144
On: 11/26/2012 11:19:00 AM
Has there been a more infuriating player to own this year than Vernon Davis?
Okay, probably, but yesterday really hurt.

You're right about SD... I really feel for Chargers fans, who are living through a waking nightmare. It's not just Turner, it's a dozen different things every week. Plenty of sports franchises have had hard luck over the years, which has made for all kinds of great stories, but this team looks genuinely cursed and with no remedy in sight. At least the Red Sox finally won, at least the Bills had great great players and got to four super bowls. What are you rooting for right now if you're a Chargers fan? Live animal sacrifice at next week's tailgate?
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 11/26/2012 11:35:00 AM
McCarthy threw in the towel early in the 3rd quarter so more guys won't get hurt I think so I wouldn't read a lot into the stats. His play calling and decisions were horrible though for the most part. Still, getting Jennings, Woodson, Mathews etc back won't help the team that much unless they fix that pathetic offensive line and play calling imho.
By: Erickson
On: 11/26/2012 12:06:00 PM
Quails - don't feel too bad for Chargers fans. After all, when the game is over, they still get to live in San Diego. That's not such a bad tradeoff.
By: taborp
On: 11/26/2012 3:03:00 PM
Jeff, I think that's part of the problem. Everyone, including the Chargers management and staff, probably has something better to do in San Diego than worry too much about NFL football. I met a couple of "Chargers fans" recently that were shocked when I said that Turner and Smith are a disaster and the team will struggle to win in the playoffs till there is a major shakeup. I can't believe they aren't marching on the stadium with pitchforks and torches. That said, as a Denver fan, please keep Norv in place as long as possible.
By: assman
On: 11/26/2012 4:02:00 PM
waiting to hear the severity of forte's injury and how long he will be out. amazingly, bush is available and i have #1 waiver pick this week!
By: Chris Liss
On: 11/26/2012 4:21:00 PM
Will keep picking SD, Scott. In this time of government cuts, it's important to support the arts.
By: herbst13
On: 11/26/2012 5:56:00 PM
No doubt RGIII looks primed to have a great career. But let's not forget, this time last year, Cam Newton was the next great NFL quarterback. Flacco and Ryan are the two winningest quarterbacks in NFL history through their first 5 years in the league. RGIII is 5-6. He's had some great games against the Saints, Rams, Panthers and Eagles. Good for him. But he's got a long way to go before his accomplishments are on par with Ryan's and Flacco's.
By: Chris Liss
On: 11/26/2012 8:04:00 PM
The Redskins offense has been top-5 this year, their defense bottom 5. Unless you expect RG to play cornerback, I'm not sure you can hang their record on him. And Newton was good, but most of it was his rushing stats and he faded badly in the second half. The opposite is happening with RGIII.
By: billgoofnow
On: 11/26/2012 8:43:00 PM
Obviously this doesn't make sense from a football standpoint, but given the construct of the current rule, wouldn't it make sense for Gary Kubiak to throw the red challenge flag right after Forsett scored that insane TD that everyone in America knew wasn't a TD, accept the 15 yard penalty on the kickoff, and render the play unable to be challenged?

Is there anything to stop a head coach from doing that on every TD they score that might get overturned?
By: Mark Stopa
On: 11/26/2012 9:10:00 PM
I'd take one RG3 before five Flaccos. Those two aren't in the same conversation right now, Jon. Not close.
By: herbst13
On: 11/26/2012 9:48:00 PM
All I'm saying is let RGIII get a whole season under his belt (preferably two) before we make these grand proclamations. The league will adjust, he will have to adjust as well, and we'll see where he is a year from now. I seem to recall Chris writing in this very blog last year that he would take Tebow over Flacco. You didn't need the benefit of hindsight to see that comment for what it was at the time: a silly statement based on an extremely small sample size.
By: herbst13
On: 11/26/2012 10:05:00 PM
Putting RGIII in the same category as Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Manning (the HOF one) and Roethlisberger after 11 games seems a little premature to me. And that is precisely what Chris means when he writes "RGIII is better than Flacco, Ryan and other QB's of that ilk already." There are the 4, maybe 5 studs in that top tier and then there's "that ilk" Chris refers to, which includes Eli, Flacco, Ryan, Schaub, Romo, maybe Dalton. In the playoffs, game on the line, I'm not so sure I wouldn't want any one of those guys over RGIII THIS YEAR. It's definitely at least close, given RGIII's lack of experience. But he has a very bright future, to be sure.
By: Chris Liss
On: 11/27/2012 12:00:00 AM
Herbst - where did I say that about Tebow? I don't recall it. Not saying it's impossible that I said it, but if I did, it would more likely have been something like: "I'd rather gamble on an unconventional unknown having success than a known mediocrity like Flacco." Even then I doubt I said that, but it's possible. And I'm not putting RGIII in the top tier - There are the big four, then Manning (the other HofF one), Big Ben and RGIII in tier 2. Then Ryan, Flacco and the rest. Maybe Romo/Schaub are in the Eli/RGIII tier, but I could go either way. Flacco's definitely in Tier 3. I'd take RGIII over any of the tier 3 guys this year no matter how big the game was.
By: assman
On: 11/27/2012 4:25:00 AM
is herbst the world famous kirk herbstreit of ESPN......or a knockoff?
By: assman
On: 11/27/2012 4:27:00 AM
and i remember liss saying that too about tebow!! juzz say'n!
By: herbst13
On: 11/27/2012 6:59:00 AM
Slow morning in the office, so I went back and did a little research. Here is the quote from last year's week 13 blog: "Given how poorly blue chippers Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Sam Bradford have played this year, I'm not sure I wouldn't rather own futures in Ponder, Tebow and Andy Dalton." You also had Tebow in the Pro Bowl. :)
By: Chris Liss
On: 11/27/2012 12:48:00 PM
yeah, that's what I figured - "not sure I wouldn't rather" and then *futures* (not present) and then it was a group of unproven guys vs a group of known mediocrities. Looks like I was probably wrong either way, but I was hardly saying Tebow was SU better than Flacco last year the way I'm saying RGIII is this year. And keep in mind Roethlisberger and Peyton were hurt, and I think Andy Dalton made the Pro Bowl. As did a crappy Philip Rivers. The AFC had zero QB depth last year.
By: Chris Liss
On: 11/27/2012 7:01:00 PM
Bill - btw - interesting question. I think the rule probably stipulates you'd have to have something challengeable for it to kick in (if you got the TD, not sure what standing Kubiak would have to challenge the play), but maybe the same logic would have to apply, and you could lock in your faulty TD.
By: Dalton Del Don
On: 11/27/2012 9:07:00 PM
I love the idea of a coach throwing a challenge flag on his own team after scoring, but it's already been stated that no, that loophole doesn't exist, and the NFL wouldn't allow it.
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 11/28/2012 7:00:00 AM
"I seem to recall Chris writing in this very blog last year that he would take Tebow over Flacco. You didn't need the benefit of hindsight to see that comment for what it was at the time: a silly statement based on an extremely small sample size." Herby with the early morning beat down! Must of had double espresso for breakfast? I haven't seen Liss's ears get bent back that far since he wrote those half dozen blogs on how Joe Mauer found a new skill....power! :p Ack, we love Liss! :) I side with Herb on the RG3 debate. Durability is a concern I have for RG3. He has all the tools and is very accurate but concussions are career killers and he has already been ktfo this year. I'll take Luck to have a better career due to better health.

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