Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NFL recap, week 2, night games edition

NY Giants at Jerry Jones
Can't blame the man for building a huge stadium (why is it that most teams with multi-decade waiting lists build stadiums the same size as their old stadiums?), but really, you'd think NBC just discovered Atlantis or something, and I don't mean this. Also, someone, I think Al Michaels, was going on and on and on about how every city should have an NFL team. Did you know that Los Angeles can support a team because it drew 100,000 people to a game 50 years ago? Yessir, it's true.

The best part was when he was using Jacksonville as an example of a city that can support a team. You know, the city that shrank its stadium and still can't sell all the seats. Also, last I recall, Los Angeles didn't seem too torn up about letting two franchises go not that long ago, or maybe Al was too busy broadcasting those games to remember.

Anyway, on the field, Tony Romo completely failed to shut down the Giants' offense, didn't cover punts and kickoffs at all, and didn't manage a single point from placekicking. Yes, he's the entire problem in Dallas, or didn't you know that? (ESPN actually ran a poll today asking whether or not Dallas would win a Super Bowl with Romo. Of course all 50 states said no. Never mind that it would be a fairly safe bet to say that about any of the 28 teams that haven't won a Super Bowl with their current quarterback. Because, you know, only one team wins each year, and some teams win more than others.)

Eli looked pretty comfortable on his final drive, and I don't think the Giants will miss Burress nearly as much as Dallas will miss Owens. Sure, T.O. is a big distraction, but he's also most definitely a #1 receiver, and I still don't believe Roy Williams is. Of course, that's probably Romo's fault too.

Indianapolis at Miami
Here's my theory about the "Wildcat". The way Miami runs it, it's simply a variation on a flexbone-style offense, with the distinction being that for the most part, the Dolphins tip their hand on the type of play they're running. If White or Pennington are on the field, it may be a pass; if not, it's a run. As many NCAA defenses have shown, knowing that a flexbone team is running the ball is not at all the same as being able to stop the run, and against teams like New England and Indianapolis, misdirection on the ground can be a big advantage (especially when you have 10 blockers and not 9, which is what happens when an RB takes a shotgun snap and there's no QB on the field).

This is also why Miami struggles in games where they don't have the lead. Various 'bone offenses fell out of favor in college for several reasons, mostly that they suck at moving the ball quickly. Miami ran a ton of time off the clock in part due to being able to run the ball so well, but that doesn't help when you need to pass, and their normal offense isn't unlike their pro-bone offense: ball control, with lots of running and short, controlled passing.

So yeah, the Colts had the ball for less than 15 minutes ... but you don't get points for time of possession. Miami missed one field goal (right after Gruden said one thing he didn't like about kicking from that spot was giving Peyton the ball at about the 40) and settled for two others, and that's not enough points to beat Indy most games. Miami left too much time on the clock in the second quarter and didn't use their final minutes well enough in the fourth, and now the Colts are 2-0 against Florida teams. (The AFC South plays the NFC West this season, so no Florida Sweep for Jim Caldwell.)

I'm not really surprised that Mike Tirico spent so much time talking about time of possession and so little time talking about points per possession. I don't think he's that good of a play-by-play guy. I think Jaws does great analysis; Gruden isn't bad at color and analysis, but gets a little too carried away. I think the producer needs to shut up and let the guys talk. Scripting the third guy's comments didn't work for Dennis Miller, didn't work for Kornheiser, and won't work for Gruden either.

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