Saturday, September 13, 2008

kind of strange

With Hurricane Ike cutting a swath through Houston, Reliant Stadium had some damage to it.  But, the Ravens and Texans were due to play football there tomorrow or Monday at the latest.
 
The NFL decided not to move the game, or otherwise impact the fans or players.  Nope, instead they reworked part of the schedule:
 
Baltimore Ravens' revised schedule
Date Oppenent Time
Sept. 14 Bye  
Nov. 9 at Houston Texans 1 p.m. ET
Cincinnati Bengals' revised schedule
Date Oppenent Time
Oct. 26 at Houston Texans 4:05 p.m. ET
Nov. 9 Bye  
Houston Texans' revised schedule
Date Oppenent Time
Sept. 14 Bye  
Oct. 26 Cincinnati Bengals 4:05 p.m. ET
Nov. 9 Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m. ET

Friday, September 12, 2008

Receivers

Its been an odd week for the widoeuts that play for the Dolphins.  Ginn and Camaillo started against the Jets, and Hagan and Bess got a little playing time.  London was active, and Willford was inactive. 
 
The receivers only caught two passes in total, and Ginn didn't play all that well. 

So this week, there was a lot of talk about who would play, who would start, and who would be inactive.  Sparano said yesterday that Ginn and Camarillo will start again, and hinted that Willford will be active this week, specifically for situations like he had on the goal line last week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Football terminology

Here's a question: "What's the difference between an offside, a false start, and an illegal shift"
 

Let's start with an offside call.  Offsides is called 99% of the time on the defense, and it is committed when a defensive player moves across the line of scrimmage (the blue line on TV).  There is an area about half a yard from the end of the football that's called the "neutral zone" (not to be confused with what the Romulans and the Federation had between them, but similar) that serves as a buffer between the offense and the defense.  If he crosses through the neutral zone and makes contact, he is offsides.

 
A related call is when the defensive player actually lines up with part of his body in the neutral zone.  Technically that's a neutral zone infraction, but will often be called offsides.  The resulting penalty in either case is five yards, against the defense, and the offense gets the down over.
 

Both a false start and an illegal shift are called on the offense.  And similar to the defensive calls, these result in 5 yard penalties, but against the offense, and the offense gets the down over.
 

A false start can be committed by anyone who is along the offensive line, including linemen and tight ends in a three-point (both feet and one hand on the ground) stance.  If they set into position and move before the ball is snapped, they will be called for a false start.  There are some exceptions for a line shift (if more than one player as a result of a change in formation, and they set for 1 second before the snap), but basically that's the rule.
 

In general, an illegal shift is committed by any other member of the offense, but typically they'll call this if two players move at the same time (you can have one man in motion before the snap) or someone moves in a way that "simulates a snap" (usually, that means they head upfield - even from the backfield - without crossing the line of scrimmage).
 

There are som unusual cases where they will call offsides on an offensive player, and that would happen when a player - such as a wide receiver - leaves the line of scrimmage and crosses the neutral zone.
 
 

Heat advantage

Time was that the Dolphins had a bit of a home field advantage in September and October.  Heat undoubtedly played a part in that.  Sure every team opens camp during the summer, but the heat and humidity in south Florida is really something.  Practicing in those conditions helped the team to prepare for it in the first few weeks of the season (and sometimes later). 
 
But, we're seeing a levelling happening here.  Players are overall in better condition that they used to be, even early in the season.  And there are measures in place to counter the heat.   At the Orange Bowl, and in the early days of Joe Robbie Stadium, fans were the only relief players had, and having the visitors on the north side of the stadium placed them in more direct sunlight.
 
Now, they have these relatively low-tech (by today's standards) cooling systems that players can wear under their uniforms, which basically hook up to a portable air conditioner, to lower the player's temperature.  And I couldn't help but notice that the Jets had a couple of people assigned to the task of holding an "awning" (really, a long strip of UV protection screen material) over the players bench, which provided shade, and probably lowered the temperature at the bench by 20 degrees.
 
Its no wonder the Jets had no trouble with the heat.  And its unlikely any other team will, either.

Time will tell

Did anyone else notice that both Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan had big days with their resepective teams, while Henne sits on the bench, and Pennington struggled?
 
I'm not saying that we made the wrong choice in Long, and we'll have to wait and see how everyone shakes out as the season rolls along...but you can't overlook what the outcomes were this week.

Ted Ginn, Jr.

Now, I was critical of Jr last week.  His play at the goal line at the end of the game was inexcusable (foul the guy, but DO NOT let him pick off the ball), and he misjudged a couple of punts.  But, I didn't have many other thoughts.
 
But....Nick Buouniconti did.  Quoth he: "The kid looks like he's lost on I-95.  The guy can't find his way out of the huddle."

Ricky

Williams reportedly negotiated his own contract extension last week.  Someone close to Ricky said "Oh, that's Ricky"...but according to the Sentinel the agreement didn't address the $8 million Ricky still owes the Phins.
 
This story is soooooo weird.

Will Allen

A few months ago, Allen changed agents and allegedly stiffed his old agent on some of the agency fees he felt he was entitled to.
 
Apparently, a court agreed, and Allen owes his old agency $200k.
 
Nice.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hmmm

These two moves by the Dolphins - Grigsby being cut and Thomas to IR - seem a little strange to me. 

Thomas had said "it wasn't much" and he "expected to be back practicing soon"...and yet he was in a boot on crutches today.  He apparently played with whatever the injury was on Sunday, because it happened early in the game.   Is he a tough guy?  Or did he fall out of favor somehow?  Who knows...
 
With Grigsby, he was the big FA this offseason, bringing to town his blocking skills, some moxie, and special teams ability.  He beat out Mauia who *may* be a better blocker overall.  And yet, he struggled some in his *first* real game, and gets cut two days after it.  I don't think anyone saw this one coming.
 
 

Donald Thomas

We feel really bad for this guy. He makes the team, and is the starter at right guard....only to suffer a season ending injury in week 1.

Boomer

According to a report, Boomer Grigsby was released today.

What's up with that? He didn't even play much this past Sunday, with the Fins going multi-wide on most downs...

Joey Porter

During pre-game warmups, each team works on half the field. Players can sometimes get a little testy if someone incurs on their end of the field.

On Sunday, Mike Nugent was practicing long field goals, and placed the ball over the 50 yard line, onto Miami's side. Joey Porter came up and knocked it off the tee. Bryan Cox came over and got in Joeys face.

Ya gotta love the scene - Cox and Porter (two of Miami's most outspoken LBs of all time) going at it, because of a kicker.

How many?

I saw a bit on Sunday nights game that I meant to comment on: they were commenting how Chicago had 6 new starters on offense from opening day a year ago, and that was huge.

Umm, Miami had 9. Only Vernon Carey and Samson Satele were starters on opening day last year.

Football terminology

I've had questions about football terms that are used in broadcasting, and I'm going to take time to mention them in my blog.

Have one you want to ask? Email me at dave@bitchindave.com

The first question is "what is a slot receiver?"

The rules are that you must line up 7 men on the line of scrimmage (the imaginary line that goes across the field where the ball is; or which TV shows you as the blue line). And the players at either end of the line must be "eligible" (that is, can go out for a pass; basically meaning not offensive linemen).

Finally, a player who is lined up at the line of scrimmage inside of the last player would not be eligible to receive a pass.

So, the way you can make him eligible is to have him take a step behind the line; everyone behind the line of srimmage is eligible, techincally (though there are some rules about the numbers players wear and whether they are eligible; that's for another time).

Because he is behind the line, and not in the backfield, they call that "the slot" because it literally is a slot along the offensive line that is created by where he's standing.

So, in this case, you have the player at the right of the offensive line in the slot - and the "near" receiver, and the player at the top is the "wide" receiver.




There is one caveat to this: a "tight" receiver (or tight end) might lineup along the offensive line. Since they want to make him eligible, they will have the wide receiver take a step back behind the line. But, that wide receiver is not lined up in the slot, because he is all the way at the end of the line.

[our respects to CBS, the NFL, and the Dolphins]

delay of game?



We have to assume that the play clock shown here is accurate. Its at 0. The ball still hasn't been snapped. I counted 1 mississippi between the time it went to 0 and the time the ball was snapped, so as much as 1 second may have passed.

Should have been delay of game; it wasn't and the Jets went on to score a couple of plays later.

[our respects to CBS, the NFL, and the Dolphins]

pass interference


On one play - why this one - Andre Goodman was called for defensive pass interference. But, as you look at the play, you realize that Coles' arm is back on Goodman, and in the complete replay you can see that Coles is trying to gain advantage by using his arm to push away from Goodman. Goodman was simply trying to fight through it, and got flagged on the play.

Seems to me this rule needs some additional adjustments, because its very inconsistent.

[our respects to CBS, the NFL, and the Dolphins]

Fumbles


In the NFL, a player fumbles when he drops the ball or gets it pulled or knocked out by his opponent. The quarterback is the exception, because the ball can only be fumbled before the pass actually starts. When the pass starts is determined by the point at which his arm is all the way back, and he starts a forward motion. After the forward motion starts, a knocked out ball is an incomplete pass; before it is a fumble.

In the Jets game, we had such an occurence. Brett Favre dropped back to pass, and was stripped of the ball by Matt Roth. As you can see - and the official saw from the replay - Favre's arm was back when the ball came out, so it was indeed a fumble.


But, what the officials missed was this: the ball was stripped at the 28, but was recovered at about the 10 by Miami. Now, its not that unsual for a ball to "squirt" out and bounce around.

But, take a look at what Favre is doing in this snap. He's reaching for the ball, and in our opinion trying to bat it (swat it) forward to create something. Maybe his team recovers and gets a first down? It struck me at the time that this was a crafty move by a veteran.

The problem is that this is an illegal play. Favre should have been flagged for illegally batting the ball forward. Typically, this would be a 10 yard penalty from the spot of the foul. But, the question is how would they enforce the penalty? The rule states that the defense would take over at the spot of the infraction; that is it would be Miami's ball at about the 18.



The officials blew this call, I think.

[our respects to CBS, the NFL, and the Dolphins]

I've been thinking

What I saw Sunday was surprising, but not necessarily in a good way.

I should not have been surprised by the player performances. Players have only been together for 5-6 weeks, and many of them are rookies or second year players. Its foolish to think they should be anything more than that.

I was amazed by just how much the playcalling resembled the playcalling under any of the previous head coaches. Run against 8 man fronts, throw short passes to the backs, and once in a while the tight end. Go "max protect" when you're passing, so only a few receivers are in the pattern.

I still don't care much for Chad Pennington. He is supposed to be this super accurate passer, but didn't show that Sunday. He hit just under 50% of his passes, but he threw 42 times, and only completed 6 to the wideouts.

What is up with Ernest Wilford being *inactive* ? We paid him a pretty good sum, and he's not even active? This guy London was active ahead of him. Weird, that.

I was drinking the Kool-Aid last week, but I stopped yesterday. I was unimpressed by what I saw, and disappointed is a good word to sum it up.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The football gods took action

I like to think of things in the football world as being a sort of "closed system" that has at its top a set of football gods who determine luck, fate, and so forth.   They ensure order and fairness in competition.
 
Last season, I would assume that the football gods were not happy with the Patriots and their smug behavior.  Then came Brady's "We're only going to score 17 points?  (smug laugh)" followed by his withdrawl from the Pro Bowl, which showed a sense of poor sportsmanship.
 
They smote him with the loss in the game, and with this mysterious injury during the preseason.  But, they took it a step further and saw to it he won't play again this year.
 
I can't say I'm sorry to hear that, though I don't wish ill on anyone.  The football gods did what they had to.
 

They couldn't beat my grandmother

Owing to the fact that Brett Favre was playing against them, and this team is so incredibly young - some of these guys would have been just out of diapers when Favre started his career - my friend Alan said "this team couldn't beat their grandfather!"

How much truth there is to that!

Disappointing

I was looking forward to the game. The Phins were coming off a decent preseason, and though I don't like to pin my hopes on the football-like-substance season, it seemed like they were showing signs of life. And it was dang hot which we thought might work to the Phins advantage.

We had a nice FinsRadio tailgate that included a few former Dolphins, Derek Hagan's dad, and Ricky Williams' mom, along with a bunch of the hosts. That was fun.

I was there with Bitchin' senior. We had tickets that I had purchased earlier in the week for less than face value. As we were heading out of the tailgate and into the stadium, we were remarking about how hot it was, and about how it can suck to sit in the stands in September in that heat; it can wilt you pretty quick...and as "the fates" would have it, some guy was trying to scalp a pair of tickets as we walked along, but wasn't having much luck getting a pair in a section he liked. I overheard him say something about paying top dollar, and senior looked at each other and made the decision to offer our tickets. We doubled our money, he got to see the game. Its the first time I've ever done this, and it felt weird to tailgate and not go to the game, especially a Jets game!

So, we headed home. We listened to the better part of the first quarter on the radio, and got home and rewound Tivo to watch it all. Skipping through the commercials, we caught up pretty quick.

...and then the disappointment. The team played, I'd say, like a bunch of rookies and castoffs, made a bunch of mistakes, looked medicore, and if it weren't for the fact that everything was new about this team, I'd say this was a continuation from last season.

They showed Parcells in the press box and he looked, I dunno, annoyed? with everything he was seeing.

Count this as one of the 2-3 that Brett Favre will account for this year. He was the difference in this game. Otherwise, the Phins might have won it.

Miami had a very late opportunity. Pennington was driving them down the field with 2 minutes left, no timeouts. It was looking pretty good. The phins were raising hopes up, and the jaded person in me who has lived through the last 3 head coaches kept thinking "what are they going to do wrong to end this badly?"

Pennington steps back on thrid down from the 18 and heaves it into the endzone. Its a bad pass, to the near corner *in front of* the db, and its picked off. And to add insult to it, Ted Ginn, jr grabs the corner and gets called for offensive interference. It was a spectacular way to fail!

I guess the bright side for me is that I had a nice tailgate, made a little money, AND I didn't have to sit through this.

I'm feeling a little frustrated and a lot disappointed. I have more to say, but I have to read some more about the game and decide whether I think it was simply that they are young, or if was a sign of another dismal season.