Tuesday, September 18, 2018

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Lugging the Leather

By TJ Troup
Another terrific week of Pro Football and today's Tuesday Tidbits the topic is running the ball for 100 yards. When the Atlanta Falcons don't have a 100 yard rusher they wins 36% of the time. When they do, they win 71% of the time!

Sunday was a classic example as Tevin Coleman gained 107 yards in the victory over Carolina. This was not the first time a Falcon has gained over 100 against the Panthers; in fact Atlanta's record when having a 100 yard rusher against them is a sterling 11-3!

Next, we are headed out West for the confrontation between San Francisco and Detroit. Now that we have eight divisions there are teams that just don't play as often as they use to. Once upon a time (no, this is not a bedtime story) there was a consistently hard-fought rivalry between Detroit and San Francisco (1950 through 1966).
The 49ers have had many outstanding runners; in fact some Hall of Fame runners thus the title "Lugging the Leather". When the Niners don't have a 100-yard rusher against Detroit their record is 24-25-1, but when they do—a dominating 14-3 record including Matt Breida's powerhouse performance Sunday afternoon in the California sunshine. See ya next week.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Green Bay's High Five Not Enough

By Eric Goska

The Fan broadcasts from the Green Bay Distillery
prior to each Packers home game.

Had Mason Crosby made history, the Packers would have defeated the Vikings.

Had Daniel Carlson not come down with a rare case of errancy, Green Bay would have lost to Minnesota.

Field goal kicking took center stage at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon. Missed kicks by both players proved costly as Green Bay and Minnesota were forced to settle for a 29-29 tie.

Kickers are unique. For the short amount of time they spend on the field, they often have an inordinate say in the outcome of a game.

Crosby and Carlson had chances to deliver in the clutch. Both missed wide of the mark.

Crosby, of course, is a veteran. Now in his 12th season with the Packers, he’s the team’s all-time leading scorer with 1,368 points.

Carlson, his counterpart on the Vikings, is a rookie with but one field goal on his professional resume. Minnesota thought highly enough of the former Auburn Tiger to draft him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.

Crosby had the busier day. The 34-year-old attempted six field goals, connecting on his first five which measured 37, 40, 31, 48 and 36 yards.

Carlson had the rougher go of it. The 23-year-old failed to split the uprights in three attempts from 48, 49 and 35 yards away.

Crosby’s chance at history – and the Packers’ chance at victory – came with three seconds left. Cash in on a 52-yarder and the foot-wielding specialist walks off with a sixth field goal – a team record for a single game – and the Packers prevailed 32-29.

The veteran appeared to do just that. From long snapper Hunter Bradley to holder J.K. Scott to the toe of Crosby, the ball was sent sailing over the crossbar.

But a timeout by Minnesota just before that sequence began rendered the play null and void. Green Bay had to try again.

This time, Crosby sent his kick wide left. It was an unfortunate ending to what had been a sterling performance.

Crosby’s miss ushered in overtime. Green Bay got one possession in the extra period and did not come close enough to summon Crosby for a seventh time.

The extra 10 minutes did provide Carlson with two shots at victory. Both times he missed wide right, first from 49 yards and then from 35 yards as time expired.

Add in his failed second-quarter attempt and Carlson finished 0-for-3. The Vikings released the rookie the following day.

That Green Bay didn’t lose to Minnesota is somewhat remarkable. Raise your hand if you recall the last time a kicker endured an oh-fer day (minimum three attempts) against the Packers.

In the last 40 years, just three players had been snake bitten to such an extent. The most recent was Steve Christie of the Giants who failed on all three of his attempts in New York’s 14-7 win over Green Bay on Oct. 3, 2004.

The other two: Eddie Murray (0-for-4) on Sept. 30, 1990 and Neil O’Donoghue (0-for-3) on Sept. 16, 1979.

Though Crosby didn’t come through with a record sixth field goal, he became the first Packers player to kick five in three different games. He had that many in a 22-9 win over the Lions in 2013 and the same number in a 30-13 victory in Minnesota in 2015.

Chris Jacke (twice) and Ryan Longwell (once) are the only other Packers to have kicked five in a game.

Crosby also joins Paul Hornung and Chester Marcol as the only Packers to have attempted six field goals in one game. Hornung was the first in 1960. Marcol (five times) was the busiest.

Last season Crosby’s run of 10 consecutive seasons with 100 or more points came to an end as the Packers struggled to a 7-9 record. Crosby and Jason Elam (12 straight) are the only two players in NFL history to have earned 100 or more points in each of their first 10 seasons.

If Green Bay’s game against the Vikings is any indication, Crosby will again surpass 100 this season. That’s good news for the Packers who tend to do better when they keep their kicker swinging for the uprights.

Extra points
The Packers are 41-1-1 in games in which they score four or more field goals.

Mason Crosby has scored more points against the Vikings (193) than he has against the Bears (172) or the Lions (161).

High Fives
Packers who have kicked five field goals in one game.

Kicker                        Opponent        Date                      Result
Mason Crosby            Vikings             Sept. 16, 2018       tie, 29-29
Mason Crosby             Vikings             Nov. 22, 2015       won, 30-13
Mason Crosby             Lions                Oct. 6, 2013          won, 22-9
Ryan Longwell             Cardinals          Sept. 24, 2000       won, 29-3
Chris Jacke                  49ers                Oct. 14, 1996        won, 23-20
Chris Jacke                  Raiders             Nov. 11, 1990       won, 29-16

Players who attempted at least three field goals in a game against the Packers and failed on each attempt.

Kicker                         FG       Team               Date                      Result
Daniel Carlson              0-3       Vikings             Sept. 16, 2018       tie, 29-29
Steve Christie               0-3       Giants               Oct. 3, 2004          won, 14-7
Eddie Murray               0-4       Lions                Sept. 30, 1990       lost, 21-24
Neil O’Donoghue         0-3       Buccaneers       Sept. 16, 1979       won, 21-10
Chris Bahr                    0-4       Bengals            Sept. 26, 1976       won, 28-7
Pete Gogolak               0-3       Giants               Sept. 19, 1971       won, 42-40
Tommy Davis               0-4       49ers                Sept. 28, 1969       lost, 7-14
Tommy Davis               0-3       49ers                Nov. 19, 1967       lost, 0-13
Fred Cox                     0-3       Vikings             Nov. 10, 1963       lost, 7-28
George Blanda             0-3       Bears               Sept. 28, 1958       won, 34-20
George Blanda             0-3       Bears               Sept. 28, 1952       won, 24-14
Bob Waterfield             0-3       Rams                Oct. 21, 1951        won, 28-0
Bill Dudley                    0-4       Lions                Oct. 30, 1949        lost, 14-16
Nick Scollard               0-3       Bulldogs           Oct. 7, 1949          lost, 0-19
George Blanda             0-3       Bears               Sept. 25, 1949       won, 17-0
Dutch Clark                  0-3       Lions                Nov. 25, 1934       lost, 0-3

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Saquon Barkley's 14 Receptions Set New Giant Mark

By John Turney
Barkley's first reception of the night. There would be 13 more.
Saquon Barkley's Sunday Night debut ended in a loss for the Giants but it ended with him holding the single-game record for most receptions in the history of the franchise. He snagged 14 passes for 80 yards bettering Tiki Barber's standard of 13, set in 2000.

Here is a screenshot of the 2018 Giants Media Guide—

Here is a screenshot of the NFLGSIS stat sheet—
We don't suggest how significant it is given the low total of 80 yards and the loss, but as they say records are kept to be broken and when it happens we try to report it.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Which Defensive Linemen Are Going to Advance to Semi-Final List?

By John Turney
The Pro Football Hall of Fame released its preliminary list for the Class of 2019. The defensive linemen on the list were La’Roi Glover, Russell Maryland, Leslie O’Neal, Simeon Rice, Richard Seymour, Neil Smith, Bryant Young.

Our favorite defensive end on the list is not one of the edge rushers, it's Richard Seymour. He was an end when the Patriots were in a 3-4 scheme and when they went to a four-man line he was a  tackle, usually a three-technique (a position he once told us was his favorite. These days he would be called a "defensive interior" player. But what he did was not different than what Howie Long did or what JJ Watt does now (though less than earlier in his career) and to a much lesser degree Elvin Bethea.

So whether you call him an end or tackle or interior player, he was a force versus the run and in nickel situations, he could rush well from the inside. Also of note, only Seymour and Ty Law have any serious chance at the Hall of Fame, precious few for a team that won three Super Bowl rings for a team that was known for an excellent defense.

Here is a compilation of his scouting reports coming out of college. Pretty much right on the money by Joel Buchsbaum, Gil Brandt and Ourlads.
In recent years the HOF voting committee has been very kind to edge rushers and maybe that changes this year. We expect Seymour to be on the Final 25 for sure and also we are predicting he will be on the Final 15 as well. We shall see.
O'Neal was a classic edge rusher, he was usually a 4-3 defensive end but he did spend some time as a 3-4 OLBer. He was never All-Pro but was Second-team All-Pro three times and went to six Pro Bowls. When his stuffs are added to his sacks, he totaled over 200, which is a good number for an edge rusher. He had a shot at being on the Semi-Final list of 25.
Neil Smith was a good run defending defensive end, he could get after the passer too. Smith grabbed a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Broncos and like Richard Seymour could get his hands on passes and kicks with 51 passes defensed and 5 blocked kicks. Certainly a very solid player, we are not sure people remember how good he was. We don't expect to see him make the Final 25.
Simeon Rice was a top-flight pass rusher but not known as a good run stuffer. He gets kudos from Warren Sapp as being HOF-worthy, but from few else. he has a chance to make the Final 25 but little chance to advance beyond that, in our view.
La'Roi Glover led the NFL in sacks in 2000 (kind of) and was a fine 3-technique in New Orleans and also played some nose tackle with Dallas in 2005. He was a two-time All-Pro and went to six Pro Bowls. He had 83.5 sacks and 52.5 run/pass stuffs and 16 forced fumbles. We don't see him making the final 25.
 Bryant Young is one of those players who didn't get as many All-Pro honors as he deserved. He was a two-time First-team All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler. He ended his career with 89.5 sacks and 76 run/pass stuffs for a total of 165.5 "stacks" (sacks plus stuffs).

 As a comparison, here are Warren Sapp's career stats (he had 162 "stacks"). He was All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in 2001 and 2002 and we are not sure why—other than team success and the fact that there were not others who had better seasons. But you can see that Young's stats, other than the "honors" match up well to Sapp's. Not quite the pass rusher that Sapp was, but more solid versus the run.
Maryland is on the prelim list and we are not sure why. He was mostly a shade tackle (nose) in a 4-3 defense, a run plugger who usually came out of the game in passing situations so guys like Jim Jeffcoat and Leon Lett could come in and get after the passer. He had a slid career but not one you'd expect from a #1 overall pick. He did make one Pro Bowl (in 1993) and likey should have gone in 1997 and he snagged three Super Bowl rings. Again, a nice career, but Hall of Fame? No.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

TUESDAY TIDBITS: A Review of Week One

By TJ Troup
As always, a fascinating opening week in the NFL, and with 16 games there should be some compelling drama/interesting games. Have not done this in the past, so for this year on Tuesday will review some historical/statistical aspect of the weekend. My research almost always deals in winning and losing. When a team returns an interception for a touchdown they win about 79% of the time. When a team has a 100-yard rusher and the opponent does not the team with the 100-yard rusher wins 77% of the time. This covers data from 1934 to the present, and was sent to the distinguished Mr. Steve Sabol years ago.
So what happens when a team has both? A 100 yard rusher, and an interception returned for a score; what is the win%? Steve Sabol and I sure enjoyed have titles put on the work done, and my respect for former great football writers gave me the title of APOCALYPTIC HORSEMEN—for the above achievement. Last night both the Rams and Jets had a 100 yard rusher and an interception return for a score, and they both won. Historically the win percentage is 91%, and usually does not happen often during a season (usually less than 10 times). See ya next week.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Second Helpings Too Much to Bear

By Eric Goska

Claiming one can defeat an opponent with a hand tied behind the back is a boast that usually elicits derision.

Aaron Rodgers, who publicly abstains from such talk, nevertheless demonstrated that victory can be achieved while operating on essentially one good leg.

Half a man. Half a game.

Sunday night it added up to one hell of an opener for the Green Bay Packers and no laughing matter for the Chicago Bears.

The Green and Gold kicked off their 100th season of football with a 24-23 come-from-behind win over their arch nemesis at Lambeau Field. It was the sixth time the Packers have prevailed by a single point in this rivalry that dates to 1921.

The contest was a tale of two halves. In the first, the Packers surrendered yards in bunches while producing few of their own. In the second, the team moved with purpose while slowing the wave of navy blue and orange.

So numerous were the failings of the home team that, six minutes into the third quarter, a 20-point deficit beckoned. The hole was still 17 points deep as the fourth quarter opened.

For Green Bay, the good news was Rodgers’ return. What the 14-year veteran couldn’t accomplish while healthy in the first half he more than made up for while compromised in the second.

Rodgers had a rough start. He threw incomplete on his first three passes. His lone first-quarter completion went for 7 yards to tight end Jimmy Graham on second-and-20.

The second quarter brought more of the same. No. 12 mustered but two completions for a scant six yards.

Then down Rodgers went. The usually elusive quarterback injured his knee after defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris sacked him for a 9-yard loss with just over nine minutes to go before halftime.

Packer Nation held its collective breath. Rodgers was carted to the locker room.

Halftime statistics showed Green Bay with 71 yards and four first downs. The Bears had 160 yards, eight first downs and – more importantly – a 17-0 lead.

Fortunately for the Packers, Rodgers wasn’t finished. He resumed work after Cody Parkey’s 33-yard field goal put Chicago up 20-0.

Unable to scramble and relegated to mostly quick throws, Green Bay’s offensive leader rose to the occasion. He directed four scoring drives capped by a field goal and touchdown passes to Geronimo Allison (39 yards), Davante Adams (12) and Randall Cobb (75).

The Packers’ offensive line, which gave up four sacks in the first half, did not yield any in the second. Defensively, Green Bay permitted Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubiski just 62 passing yards in the final two quarters.

Rodgers’ second-half numbers were far more impressive: 17 completions in 23 attempts for 273 yards. He was particularly effective in the fourth quarter where he threw for 212 yards and three scores.

His second-half passer rating was 152.72, not too far removed from the NFL maximum of 158.33.

Just six players in Packers history have exceeded 150 in a second half. Rodgers’ effort against the Bears was the 25th time it has happened.

Not surprisingly, Rodgers is Green Bay’s all-time leader with 12 second halves of 150 or more. Brett Favre (6) and Bart Starr (4) are the only other Packers players to get there more than once.

Rodgers has topped 150 against the Bears twice before. He compiled a second-half rating of 150.95 in a 38-17 win in 2014 and a mark of 152.08 in a 35-21 triumph on Christmas Day 2011.

Frustrating Chicago has been standard operating procedure for Rodgers. Whether it be a 50-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings in 2009, a 48-yarder to Randall Cobb in 2013 or a six-pack of aerial scores in a 41-point blowout in 2014, Rodgers has engineered 16 wins in 20 starts against the Bears.

But pulling out a victory in the fourth quarter when down 17 might top them all. Certainly, no Packers team had come back when that far gone.

Fifteen points had been the maximum. Bobby Thomason was the triggerman in a 29-27 win over the Yanks in 1951 (down 21-6) and Don Majkowski piloted the team to a 23-21 victory against the Falcons (down 21-6) in 1989.

Rodgers now resides at the head of that list.

Early in his career, Rodgers’ comeback ability was questioned. He was called out for not winning enough close games.

Against the Bears Sunday, Rogers, figuratively speaking of course, came as close as anyone to beating a team with one arm tied behind his back.

Extra Points

·    Green Bay is 24-1 in games in which its passer posts a second-half rating of 150 or more. Its only loss was a 37-34 setback to the Vikings in the 2012 regular-season finale.

·    Rodgers 212 fourth-quarter passing yards came up seven short of Babe Parilli’s team record. Parilli passed for 219 yards in the Packers’ 37-21 loss to the Redskins in 1958.

Chasing Perfection
Packers players with the most second-half passer ratings of 150 or more (minimum 10 attempts). The highest rating allowed is 158.33, sometimes referred to as a perfect rating.

      No. of 150s      No. of 158.33s      Player
             12                        4                 Aaron Rodgers
              6                         3                 Brett Favre
              4                         2                 Bart Starr
              1                         1                 Tobin Rote
              1                         0                 Don Majkowski
              1                         1                 Matt Flynn

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Homages to Franchise History

By John Turney

In the Sunday Night Football game on September 9, 2018, Bears rookie head coach Matt Nagy aligned his team in a T-formation and after the game said he did so as an homage to the Bear franchise.
Nagy's T-Formation Tribute
In 2011 Rob Ryan, then in his first season as the Cowboys defensive coordinator showed a Flex formation as an homage to Tom Landry and the defense he invented in the early 1960s.
Rob Ryan's Flex Homage
Ryan ran his tribute in the first preseason game and Nagy showed respect in the regular season. We compliment both for the efforts, though neither ran it more than one time as far as we know. We'd love to see if the Flex or the full house T-formation could work these days. Maybe next year.