Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nick Chubb Sets Esoteric Record

LOOKING BACK
By John Turney
Credit: Getty Images
Seeing the boxscore of the Raiders-Browns game today we were intrigued. We saw Nick Chubb carried the ball 3 times for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. So, we went to Pro Football Reference and their handy search pages to see if that, or anything similar had ever been done before.

The answer was no (http://pfref.com/tiny/I79UN):


As you can see the search resulted in no results. So, congrats Mr. Chubb. No one in NFL history has done what you did today!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Four and Oh—Will 2018 L.A. Rams Join the Previous Thirteen?

LOOKING BACK
By John Turney
Thirteen times in franchise history—once in Cleveland, four times in St. Louis and eight times is Los Angeles—the Rams have begin the season with a 4-0 record.

Currently, the Rams are 3-0 and face the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis on Thursday Night Football om the 27th. As TJ Troup pointed out the Rams-Vikings series has not been kind to the Rams, especially when the games are played in the North.

When the Rams have begun the season with a 4-0 record, the season almost always goes well, all but twice they made the playoffs and twice won NFL Championships. Will 2018 follow suit?
Bob Waterfield
The first time the Rams were 4-0 was 1945 when Bob Waterfield, the NFL's MVP that year, was a rookie and he led them to the NFL Championship though the teams best player was Jim Benton who led the NFL with 1067 receiving yards and averaged 23.7 yards per catch. The defense posted a pair of shutouts and the offense rushed for 781 yards in that first quartet of games. Only one of the teams they beat, however, ended the season with a winning record and the combined record of the teams they beat through four weeks was 4-12.
Dick Hoerner
In 1949, again with Waterfield at the helm, the Rams posted a 4-0 record. Like 1949 the combined record of the teams they beat was 4-12, with just one of the wins being a "quality win" and that was over the Bears who ended up 9-3. This season the receiving star was Tom Fears who ended up leading the NFL in receptions and also led the NFL with nine touchdown receptions.

The defense was led by All-Pro defensive tackle Dick Huffman, fine rookie linebacker Tank Younger (who also played fullback) George Sims who picked off nine passes and a good pair of defensive ends in Larry Brink and Jack Zilly. The 1949 Rams team lost the NFL championship to the Eagles on a rainy day in Los Angeles.
Nineteen years later the Rams began a season 4-0, and that was in 1968. After ending the 1967 regular season on fire (beating the Packers and Colts to win the division, but then getting thumped by the Packers in the Playoffs) the Rams, in 1968, began the regular season where they left off. They won their last eight games in 1967 and their first six in 1968, fourteen in a row.

Again, the combined record of the teams they beat was 4-12, but two of the wins were quality wins, one was over the 3-1 Cowboys and the other over the 3-1 49ers. In those first four games the Rams Fearsome Foursome allowed just 64.8 yards a game rushing and a 2.9 yards per carry average and nailing the quarterback 17 times. The defensive passer rating was 42.3.

The running game was not dynamic, but plodding but Dick Bass and Les Josephson and others rushed for 550 yards and a 3.9 average and Roman Gabriel passing states were 55/101 for a 54.5 completion percentage for 696 yards 7 touchdowns and 2 picks for a 91.0 passer rating.
1969 Rams with newly acquire Bob Brown (76) and Mike LaHood (64) filling in for Joe Scibelli
In 1969 the Rams repeated their 1968 performance and exceeded it by going 11-0 to start the season before losing the final three and the playoff game in one of the better el foldos in league history.

The defense allowed just 3.2 yards a rush and sacked quarterbacks 16 times in the opening four games and allowed a defensive passer rating of 51.5. The offense lacked a running game and the offense fell on the shoulders of NFL MVP Roman Gabriel who threw for 9 touchdowns and no picks with a passer rating of 92.6.

The combined record of the fallen was 3-12-1 with the only quality win was over the Colts who were just 2-2 in the opening four games.
Fred Dryer and Jack Youngblood putting the "pinch" on Fran Tarkenton
The Rams hired Chuck Knox in 1973 to be their head man and his team was built on the early 1970s Dolphins model—run the ball, stop the run, efficient play-action deep passing set up by the run game and get after the opposing passer. His first iteration of his team did all those things.

They began 6-0, ended 12-2 but lost in the opening round of the playoffs due to what seemed like the jitters by his offensive team, plagued by fumbles, picks, missed field goals they were defeated by the Cowboys. But after for games they had run for 879 yards and newly acquire John Hadl had a passer rating of 146.1, the highest of any Ram QB in the first month of the season.

Though only throwing 13 times a game he had 8 touchdowns and no picks and many of his passes were deep, averaging 13.6 yards per completion. Harold Jackson had 9 receptions for 185 yards and 4 touchdowns and this was before his monster game against Dallas in week five when he was the Offensive Player of the Week with four touchdown catches.

Defensively the Rams allowed 70.3 yards rushing (a 3.4 average per carry) and has 11 sacks (Led by Jack Youngblood who had half those sacks) and picked off seven passes (by six different defenders).

The record of their foes was 6-10 overall and only the Falcons ended the season with a winning record.
1978 versus the Cowboys in week five
In 1978 the Rams began 7-0 and the opening four games were defensive struggles. The offense couldn't run (3.1 yards per rush), couldn't pass (67.3 passer rating) so the defense and special teams carried the team with Frank Corral kicking field goals and Pat Thomas blocking kicks.

The following two tables show the vital stats of all the 4-0 teams along with the 3-0 2018 Rams. (Click to enlarge)

Hat tip to Pro Football Reference for Charts
The Rams were the number one defense in the NFL in 1978 and carried that distinction from week two on. Their defensive passer rating in the 4-0 span was an outstanding 41.5.

The combined record of the four teams they beat was 8-8 but all four ended up in the playoffs so all four were quality wins.
In 1985 it was John Robinson's team and Fritz Shurmur's defense. Like 1978 they began 7-0 and in the early four games they missed Eric Dickerson for two (holdout) and had a short quarterback who threw sidearm—Dieter Brock. Charles White filled in nicely for Dickerson and the run offense was fine. The defense was emphasizing the nickel more than the base and relied on a fine stable of secondary men to get the job done, names like Nolan Cromwell, Johnnie Johnson, Gary Green, LeRoy Irvin and nickel back Vince Newsome all starred along with the NFL's best special teams units.

The record of the four defeated teams was 5-11 and only the Denver Broncos ended the season with a winning record (11-5) though they missed the playoffs.
Credit: Spokeo
In 1988 the Rams had injuries on the defensive line and Fritz Shurmur had a bunch of good linebackers so he often employed his Eagle defense in 1988 and 1989. In 1988 it took the league by storm and after four games they had 25 sacks. It also worked (though they were a 3-4 base) against the run allowing just 331 yards rushing for a 3.8 average in the first four games. Gary Jeter had 6.5 of the 25 sacks and Kevin Greene had four. Fred Strickland was the unique chess piece in the Eagle scheme, playing 'nosebacker'. He'd play over the nose in the Eagle but also stem to inside linebacker for the 'Hawk' defense. He'd also play defensive tackle in the nickel defense.

The offense belonged to Jim Everett (104.0) passing rating, followed up by a 104.9 in 1989) and Greg Bell (Dickerson had been traded the previous season).

The record of the defeated was 5-11 and only the Giants had a winning record by years end.
In 1989 they were 4-0 again, but it was done more with mirrors on defense, the run stopping and pass defense were okay, but nothing spectacular. The offense was a tick better than in 1988 but the defense was suspect until a fine 13-12 win over the 49ers. Against the Packers, in week three a Vince Newsome pick-six proved to be the difference.

Two of their early wins were quality over the eventual Super Bowl champs the 49ers and the 10-6 Packers. The combined record of their victims after week four was 8-8.
Roman Phifer
In their first season in St. Louis (1995) the Rams started out a house on fire, winning the turnover battle 14-0 and Jerome Bettis steadily closing out games and the defense, led by Roman Phifer, D'Marco Farr, Todd Lyght, Toby Wright and others making big play after big play.

The 5-11 record of the teams the Rams beat was a bit deceiving. The Packers and Bears were quality wins but the Saints and Panthers both ended 7-9 and were "tough outs". Not so much for the Rams who ended 7-9 and going 3-9 the final 3/4 of the season. The running game went south and so did the big advantage in turnovers.
From 1999-01 the Rams were 4-0 every year and the offense chemistry was the same: Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt riddling defenses with Mike Martz calling the plays.

However, the story of those three defenses is another story. In 1999 the Rams had the NFL's top run defense and led the NFL in sacks. Their defensive passer rating was 64.0, second to only the Buccaneers. However, in 2000 the defense was one of the worst in the NFL, 31ist in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed, and it occurred with virtually the same players. Kevin Carter and D'Marco Farr were injured to varying degrees, but it was a big drop.

So, Martz blew up the defense, hired Lovie Smith and built a facsimile of the Tampa Bay defense. They traded for Aeneas Williams, drafted Damione Lewis, Adam Archuleta, and Ryan Pickett in the first round and Tommy Polley in the second round to be their 'Ronde Barber, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Booger McFarland. It worked, for a short time (2001 anyway). The defense was 7th in points allowed, 3rd to yards allowed, 3rd in rushing yards allowed and their 69.9 defensive passer rating was sixth.

In 1999 the record of the fallen was 5-12 but none of the teams made the playoffs and the 49ers who were 3-2 after the Rams loss totally nosedived.
In 2000 the combined record was a respectable 7-9. And in 2001 the record was 8-8 and three of the wins, over the Eagles, the 49ers, and Dolphins were quality wins over teams that went to the playoffs.

So, it's been seventeen years and now Rams are poised to go 4-0 So, again, will 2018 be another 4-0 start?
Facing the Vikings in Minnesota is no small task. This is a team that beat the Rams last year and was just humiliated this past Sunday. The Rams are 3-0 but the combined record of those teams is 1-8. Their run defense is allowing 5.0 yards a rush and the pass rush has generated just 4 sacks. Their secondary play has been excellent allowing just a 73.3 defensive passer rating but the Rams are without their two best secondary players, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters with lower leg injuries though Peters is officially "day-to-day".

Dominique Easley and Matt Longacre are clearly not 100% healthy and it shows giving the Rams a weakness as WILL backer, which is a de facto defensive end slot. It's so dicey that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has used MIKE backer Cory Littleton at SAM and move the usual SAM backer, Samson Ebukam over to WILL in some looks in a 3-3 nickel base defense if you will. The Rams are trying to generate some edge pressure on quarterbacks and it's not happening very much.

However, on offense, they have been fairly spectacular. Jared Goff has a 111.0 passer rating and 6 TDs and just 2 picks so far and Todd Gurley leads the NFL in the number of carries and rushing touchdowns and is fourth in rushing while also being vital to the passing game. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has 19 catches for 336 yards in three games for 112.0 a game (fifth in the NFL). Their offensive line from center to left tackle is ancient but very effective. And the right side is not bad, either. So they have the weapons to go 4-0 and beyond.

The game will feature perhaps the best two special teams coordinators in the NFL in John Fassel and Mike Priefer, though Priefer has been plagued by some bad kickers in his time with the Vikings. Fassel will be without Greg Zuerlein for a short time, including this Thursday. Fassel is also will be using his third punt returner of the season that night as well.

Late Thursday we will know.

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Running & Receiving

By TJ Troup

Christian McCaffrey caught 10 passes in a game against the Eagles in 2017, and on Sunday pounded out 184 yards rushing. How many backs in league history have had a game with at least 10 receptions, and at some point in his career gained over 180 rushing?

Was very surprised that many of the greats of yesteryear did not accomplish this running & receiving achievement. This fraternity includes Le'Veon Bell, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk and LT (and am sure there are others).

Most of today's column deals in a preview of this Thursday's night game between the Vikings and Rams. From 1961 through 1963 the Vikings record was 7-27-2 (excluding Ram games), while the Rams were 7-29 (excluding Viking games). Minnesota led the all-time series 3-2-1, and today let's take a look back to September 27th, 1964.
The Vikings and Rams are both much stronger teams in 1964 than the previous year, and we are in the Coliseum on a beautiful warm afternoon. Norm Van Brocklin and Harland Svare were teammates for two year in the '50's, and later played against each other in those dramatic clashes between the Eagles and Giants. They now face each other as head coaches (they will later face each other as coaches in '73 with different teams).
Dick Bass
Now the question to be answered is which team stays in contention in the early part of the '64 campaign? The Rams led by Bill Munson take the opening kickoff and march down the field to take an early lead on a Gossett field goal. The key play is Dick Bass 59-yard run on a sweep right. Left guard Charlie Cowan makes a fine open-field block on right safety Charley Britt to give Bass a wide-open running lane.
 Later in the game after Minnesota pulls ahead 7-6, Bass scores on a short sweep to the left; as Cowan again makes the key block—this time knocking the crap out of Britt who goes straight back into Ed Sharockman. Two Norsemen on one block!
Bass gains 92 yards on just 9 carries, and coming off the bench is Terry Baker to fill in. Baker who has failed as a quarterback has a strong game running (gains 61 yards) and receiving as Los Angeles gains 223 yards on the ground. Fourth quarter and Mr. Tarkenton takes off for 9 yards up the middle to the Ram five-yard line. Fran has the wherewithal to flip the ball to Bill McWatters who happily accepts the lateral and scores.

This is another case where the box score does not tell enough about scoring plays. Los Angeles wins 22-13.

During the mid-'70's these two teams built one of the best rivalries in the league as they lined up against each other in the playoffs 4 times in five seasons. The game this Thursday night could well be a harbinger of a future playoff clash this January?

Monday, September 24, 2018

What are the Odds?

By Nick Webster
Sherman being helped off. Credit: Fox Sports
Richard Sherman and fellow corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib went down with injuries this past Sunday, the first two both suffering calf injuries and Talib with an ankle injury.  
Peters being helped off. Credit: Fox Sports
Talib grasping his ankle. Credit: Fox Sports
What else does this trio share in common? 

It's this—of all the active NFL corners who have faced 200 or more targeted passes they rank, in that order, first, second and third in interceptions percentage—the portion of targeted passes that they intercept.  

In fact, Richard Sherman’s interception rate of 6.7% is the third-highest in the NFL since 1995. Some guy named Deion Sanders is the overall leader, and right behind Sherman at #4 is Rod Woodson—nice company.

Now, keep in mind, these figures don’t include Deion and Rod’s first few seasons as the figures on targeted CB’s wasn’t available back then, but its clear that in this trio we’re talking about three of the best in the game and—at least in Richard Sherman—a player who’s already an all-time great. Some context for that, over 7 complete seasons now Sherman has allowed a passer rating that is lower that JaMarcus Russell’s career passer rating.

Forgettable First Half Dooms Green Bay in Washington

By Eric Goska

In 1951, Detroit became the first team to amass more than 300 yards
and more than 25 points against the Packers in a first half.
Sunday, the Redskins became the latest.

Only one quarterback ever led the Packers to victory under conditions similar to those Green Bay faced at halftime in Washington.

That player has been out of the league for years.

The Redskins came out firing Sunday with one of their best offensive first halves in years. A score on their opening possession produced a lead they never relinquished as they pounded Green Bay 31-17 at FedExField.

The Redskins were looking to take control from the get-go. The team plays better with an early lead as a number of graphics during the television broadcast attested to.

Washington delivered and more. The team scored touchdowns on four of six first-half possessions and built an 18-point advantage at halftime.

In dominating play in the opening two quarters, two numbers stood out for the Redskins: 323 yards and 28 points. That’s more yards (160) and points (17) than the Bears accumulated in their first half hour of play against Green Bay in the opener.

As a Packers fan, one longs to be a dentist in order to remove the bad taste that lingers from those two pathetic first-half showings.

Washington, on the other hand, must have been downright giddy. In five seasons under head coach Jay Gruden, the Redskins had never scored 28 first-half points. Only once had they gained more than 323 yards in the opening two quarters.

The Redskins’ first-half scoring drives measured 75, 79, 98 and 74 yards. Except for the second advance, each touchdown took fewer than 200 seconds (3 minutes, 20 seconds) to materialize.

Translation—the Redskins wasted little time in dissecting Green Bay.

Long-distance plays accounted for more than half of the first-half haul. Vernon Davis (50 yards), Paul Richardson (46) and Jordan Reed (34) stretched the field with receptions. Adrian Peterson ripped off a run of 41.

The Redskins welcomed ineptitude on another front. They accepted three pass interference penalties on Green Bay – Jaire Alexander (22 yards), Tramon Williams (8) and Davon House (7) – on their second touchdown drive.

Figuratively speaking, Washington nearly made the equivalent of a first down every time it touched the ball. The team averaged 9.8 yards per play in the first half. Quarterback Alex Smith earned 21.4 yards with every completion.

Washington displayed balance. It had 109 yards rushing and 214 yards passing in assembling a 28-10 first-half lead.

For Green Bay, it was ugly, but the final result hardly surprising. The team is 1-12 when surrendering 300 or more yards and 25 or more points before intermission.

Fortunately, these stinkers don’t show up often. When they do, reach for the mouthwash.

Green Bay first performed a 300/25 pratfall against the Lions in a 52-35 loss on Thanksgiving Day 1951. Until Sunday, the most recent face-plant had occurred in Nashville where Green Bay was overwhelmed 47-25 by the Titans (351/35) in 2016.

Mike McCarthy endured his first in his inaugural year as Packers head coach in 2006. The Jets beat Green Bay 38-10 after piling up 340 yards and 31 points in the first half.

To Green Bay’s credit, it finally clamped down on Washington. Its defense surrendered just 63 yards and three points in the second half.

The Redskins gained six yards passing in Quarters 3 and 4 combined. That’s the fewest the Packers have allowed after the break since holding the Eagles to minus-1 in 2000.

Green Bay forced Washington to punt on four consecutive possessions while giving up just 31 yards and one first down. That lone chain-mover resulted from a highly questionable roughing the passer call on linebacker Clay Matthews.

But Aaron Rodgers and the offense couldn’t rise to the occasion. Aside from a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive at the start of the third quarter, the Packers were held scoreless.

Drops on fourth down by Randall Cobb and third down by Lance Kendricks proved costly. The game effectively ended after cornerback Fabian Moreau ripped the ball from Cobb’s grasp with 5 minutes, 23 seconds remaining. Fellow defensive back Josh Norman recovered.

Someone, please text Matt Flynn. After the Cowboys piled up 332 yards and 26 points in erecting a 26-3 first-half lead in 2013, Flynn coolly led Green Bay to a 37-36 victory. His second-half passer rating that day (136.7) was far better than that of Rodgers (85.3) in Washington.

Better yet, Green Bay could emulate the Bears and Redskins. Both teams came ready to play, something that needs to happen week in and week out in the National Football League.

300/25

The 13 regular-season games in which the Packers surrendered 300 or more yards and 25 or more points in the first half.

Date                      Opponent        Yards     Points     Final
Sept. 23, 2018       Redskins          323         28           GB lost, 17-31
Nov. 13, 2016       Titans               351         35           GB lost, 25-47
Dec. 15, 2013        Cowboys         332         26           GB won, 37-36
Dec. 3, 2006          Jets                  340         31           GB lost, 10-38
Dec. 5, 2004          Eagles              302         35           GB lost, 17-47
Oct. 11, 2004        Titans               310         27           GB lost, 27-48
Sept. 26, 2004       Colts                328         35           GB lost, 31-45
Dec. 16, 1956        Rams                349         35           GB lost, 21-49
Nov. 11, 1956       Bears               319         28           GB lost, 14-38
Nov. 6, 1955         Bears               313         28           GB lost, 31-52
Dec. 5, 1954          49ers                320         28           GB lost, 0-35
Dec. 12, 1953        Rams                335         26           GB lost, 17-33
Nov. 22, 1951       Lions                325         31           GB lost, 35-52

Thursday, September 20, 2018

CHOOSE FREE AGENTS FIRST!

OPINION
By Jodi Woodruff
THE WALL ROCKS 
In pro football, teams should choose free agents first, before those who are drafted! Free agents are veteran, seasoned players who have seen sometimes years of pro. background versus a fresh out of college senior - who is young and still needs 2-3 years under his belt before playing the pros!

Baseball uses the minor leagues to work up their players for the pros. Football can do the same, using the CFL, International Leagues, the IFL, and the CIF leagues to groom their soon-to-be star players.

Give Kirk Cousins a few years, and he will be a pro. He "has all the right stuff". He's just too young. That's all. He needs some time to develop and grow into the position of star quarterback - like Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, and Case Keenum did. But, until then - why risk the injury and loss(es) to a young player. It isn't fair to that player. He deserves a chance to grow naturally into his position without the pressure of the NFL limelight on him.

Plus the risk of injury is great when they are young. Plus, how many #1 draft picks have we seen that just haven't "cut it" in the pros? And Heisman Trophy winners. Obviously, it is definitely not that they aren't good enough, because these players clearly are. They just need a few more years in the semi-pros to work out "the kinks" in their programs, and to naturally mature and grow into the position.

Drew Powell, from the Iowa Barnstormers, is an excellent example. Compared to Kurt Warner, Drew was the MVP in the IFL (Indoor Football League) in 2018. His team won the championship for the first time in 19 years. (Kurt Warner did not bring home a title for Iowa during his time with the same team.) I'm much more confident in Drew's ability to do well in the NFL than I am with half the quarterbacks currently in the NFL. They are all pros, to be sure. The top 1 of the 1%. But, they just haven't done their time "in the Leagues" like Drew has.

Another example is the phenomenal Cochise Jones. Cochise is a running back with the Mersin Mustangs—an International League team from Europe. Cochise has broken 2 franchise records and was voted MVP, as a running back, of his League. Now that is what I call a Pro. Football Player. This guy knows what he is doing, and he has "been around the block" already. Plus, he is used to the attention, adoration, and paparazzi already. No "learning curve" required!

The NFL was not meant to be a training ground for college recruits and rookies. It is supposed to be "the pros". We pay to see pro-senior players. And, that is precisely what I want to see! Not kids fresh out of college, but pro-senior players who have "been there, done that" already. That is what I'm paying the big bucks for! The Pros - P-R-O-S!

I already know about Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, and the famous Kurt Warner story. But there are many other senior, gifted players who played undrafted in the Leagues. I did some research on this and the list is long. Here is a sample of it:

Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon, Emlen Tunnell, Marion Motley, Drew Pearson, Joe Perry, Dave Grayson, Larry Little, Coy Bacon, Rod Smith, Cornell Green, Lou Groza, London Fletcher, Willie Wood, Donnie Shell, Nate Newton, Cameron Wake, Jeff Saturday, Joe Jacoby, Jason Peters, Brian Waters, Cliff Harris, James Harrison, Malcolm Butler, Wes Welker, Adam Vinatieri, Willie Brown, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Danny Amendola, Priest Holmes, Dick Lane, and the famous John Randle.

Wow! That is quite an impressive list of names. Equally impressive is how many great quarterbacks have come from that rank. You think it can't be done? Well, it is already happening all the time. And - they are proven stars that win games and Super Bowls! That is what is incredible and amazing about it all.

For the safety of the younger players, I would prefer to see veteran, seasoned players in the NFL! Players that have played the semi-pros or other pros for at least a year if not more. (3 would be my preference.) In conclusion, it would be nice if the NFL would hire Free Agents First!

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

Oh-Fers
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

LOOKING BACK
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?

LOOKING AHEAD
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.