Tag:Tim Tebow
Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:36 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:49 am
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Monday Musings: How do you slow Brady?

BALTIMORE -- How do you slow down Tom Brady?

I asked that question to Baltimore Ravens corner Lardarius Webb.

"You have to try and confuse him," Webb said.

Good luck with that. Brady, like the other top quarterbacks, has a way of knowing where he's going with the football before the snap. He's great at those pre-snap reads.

The Patriots don't really stretch the field all that much, but Brady excels at getting the ball to the receiver or tight end with the best match-up. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and receiver Wes Welker are all good at winning against man coverage.

"Tom is playing excellent up there, and what they did to the Broncos last night, I think they sent a message to whoever was coming up there," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. " So, we’ve got our hands full and we’ve got to go up and get ready to play in the AFC championship.”

You can't expect the Ravens to stop Brady. They can only hope to slow him down.

 Look, I've stated my opinion about Tim Tebow's ability to play NFL quarterback the right way. I didn't need his performance against the Patriots Saturday night to convince me that he's far from being able to lead a team from the pocket. The Broncos gimmicked up the offense for him to help offset his inability to throw from the pocket. Until he learns how to do that, and throw into tight windows, there will always be doubts. He didn't lose that game to the Patriots. Hell, John Elway in his prime wouldn't have won that for the Broncos. But expect Tebow to be pushed in training camp by somebody. Or the Broncos will be in a lot of trouble moving forward. 

 The NFL considering full-time officials makes no sense to me. What they need to do is add an extra official on the field. The game is too fast now to just have seven officials on the field. One more would help compensate for the speed of the game advancing to where it is now. Plus, more passing means that the officials have to expand their focus to a wider perspective. So say no to full time officials, but yes to adding one more on the field.

 Lewis wasn't too happy that a Baltimore writer questioned the way he and Reed played the final few games of the season. He took exception to the criticism of their tackling. Truth be known, neither one tackled that well down the stretch. It's hard to believe after 16 years, Lewis still gets worked up over the critics.

 I love the hire of Dirk Koetter by the Atlanta Falcons as offensive coordinator. Koetter and Matt Ryan will work well together. And for those worried about Koetter being too conservative, he was forced to be that way under Jack Del Rio. He often had game plans adjusted by the head coach. That won't happen in Atlanta. This is Koetter's chance to show how good a coach he can be. I bet he excels.

 I like the idea of the Miami Dolphins hiring Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. He is a damn good coach whose time has come to be the top man. Zimmer is fiery coach, but his players love him.

 Fear the Texans next year. That is a talented football team. Who knows how good they could have been if Matt Schaub didn't go down? That defense can be special. They do have to decide what to do with Mario Williams? Do they tag him? That would cost $22 million. That's way too high, considering they played without him for most of the season and finished second in total defense. Rookie Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin are both good players at outside linebacker. If Williams hits the market, he will be by far the highest-paid free agent out there.

 Just a thought, but if Jeff Fisher is worth $8 million a year what is Tom Coughlin worth?

 The Saints might lose defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to the Rams. He would join good buddy Jeff Fisher, the team's new coach. Here's what I wonder: Do the Saints really care? Williams loves to blitz, and he was undone by it against the 49ers Saturday. His defenses have struggled to defend the pass in New Orleans. 

 Did Alex Smith show what he could do when given the chance to throw against the Saints? Has he been held down his entire career? It's a legitimate question. Smith looked great in the fourth quarter and his last-minute drive was something you'd expect from Joe Montana. He was accurate, throwing into tight windows. Smith has always been a stand-up guy. It's nice to see him having some success. He's a class kid.

 Admit it. When you watched 49ers tight end Vernon Davis lighting up the Saints for 180 yards and the game-winning touchdown, you asked why he doesn't do that more? I think the 49ers need to get him involved in the offense more.

 Memo to those out there touting the Giants as a defensive team: They were eighth in scoring offense and 25th in scoring defense. They are an offensive team that has a pass rush. Period.

 Of the four teams left in the playoffs, the team that finished highest in rushing yardage was the 49ers. They were eighth. You don't run it to win anymore. You just don’t. 

Posted on: January 12, 2012 5:07 pm
 

Divisional Round Matchups: Suggs vs. Brown

Texans left tackle Duane Brown vs. Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs -- Brown has been one of the better left tackles in the league. He has really improved in pass protection. Suggs is a force off the corner. He tends to get sacks in bunches, so Brown can't allow him to get going. If he does, it could be trouble for T.J. Yates.

Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody vs. Texans center Chris Myers -- If the Texans are gong to run the football, they have to move Cody off the line. That means Myers. He is good at taking the nose where he starts to go. But if Cody is playing him head up, it could be trouble for Myers to move him. He isn't that strong.

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Packers left tackle Chad Clifton -- The last time the Giants played the Packers, Pierre-Paul had a big day against Marshall Newhouse, who was playing for the injured Clifton. With Clifton back, the Packers have to feel better about the pass protection. He is good at it. But he isn't a great run blocker.

Packers corner Tramon Williams vs. Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks -- Williams usually takes the team's top receiver if the Packers play a lot of man. They used him some on Nicks in the last meeting, and Nicks beat him for a long play. Even though Victor Cruz had a better season, Nicks is still the Giants top receiving threat.

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow vs. Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- Belichick has had two weeks to prepare for Tebow and the Broncos' gimmick offense. That will give him a big edge on Tebow. What does Belichick throw at him that will be different from the last meeting? I bet it's a lot. How well Tebow handles that will go a long way in determining if Denver can move the football.

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham vs. 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and others -- Graham is a huge part of the Saints offense. His ability to stretch the field as a tight end almost mandates a safety covers him, but word is the 49ers will try and handle him with Willis, one of the league's best cover linebacker. But you can bet the 49ers will also put a safety on him in other situations.

49ers defensive end/tackle Justin Smith vs. Saints guard Carl Nicks -- Smith is a 3-4 defensive end, but when the 49ers go to a sub-package, they put Aldon Smith next to Justin Smith, and he moves inside. That could put Justin Smith him on Nicks, one of the best guards in the NFL in a lot of passing situations. That's force vs. force.

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey vs. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski -- At times in his career, Bailey has played a lot of man coverage on tight ends. He is used to it with Antonio Gates in his division. I would imagine that the Broncos would put Bailey on Gronkowski some in this game in man coverage. I know I would.

Patriots corner Devin McCourty vs. Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas -- The Broncos have one real receiving threat, and that's Thomas. He is coming off a 204-yard receiving game last week against Pittsburgh. McCourty is a good player who had a bad year. He isn't a great man cover player, and was torched some early playing it, but he might be asked to come up big here. Kyle Arrington might also spend 

Texans receiver Andre Johnson vs. Ravens corner Lardarius Webb -- Johnson didn't play in the first meeting. This time, you can expect him to challenge the Baltimore corners down the field. Webb, who has had a good season, will likely spend a lot of the day on Johnson. That's a tough challenge for any corner.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 5:33 pm
 

Monday Musings: Carmichael Jr. deserves a look

Why isn't New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. getting any play on the head-coaching market? 

It has to be because the perception is that he's little more than an appendage for coach Sean Payton running the offense. But Carmichael Jr. has taken over as the play-caller in New Orleans. He did most of it -- with Payton's input -- in Saturday night's blowout of the Lions

 According to team sources, Payton has given Carmichael Jr. more and more of the offensive workload and more of the installation process. I wasn't sure how Carmichael Jr. would do leading a room, but the word according to team sources is that he would be good at it. I talked briefly with Carmichael Jr. after the Lions game and asked if he was getting any play for jobs, and he said he was not. I don't get it. 

The man is running the most explosive offense in the NFL. Yes, Payton has input. But shouldn't Carmichael Jr. be getting an interview somewhere? 

---You have to give Tim Tebow credit for making a handful of nice throws. But doesn't Demaryius Thomas deserve credit for turning a simple slant into an 80-yard touchdown to win the game? The guy made a great route adjustment on another throw for a big gain? Tebow did some good things. It was one of his better games. But let's not make him out to be John Elway.

---Marty Schottenheimer being interviewed by the Bucs is crazy. Look, he had some good year. But why not talk to some young coaches? There are good coaches out there. Let's get off the recycled coaches.

---I hear a lot of people coming down on Falcons coach Mike Smith. Some moron even suggested he be fired. What? The guy has gone to the playoffs three of his four seasons and he should be fired? Yes, the Falcons have had playoff disappointment under Smith, but only one of the three losses was at home. The Falcons need to be more aggressive on offense. That's the next step for this franchise.

---Lost in the all the Tebow-mania from Sunday's game was how well the Broncos tackles played. Rookie Orlando Franklin at right tackle and Ryan Clady at left tackle both had impressive days. Franklin's improvement from start to finish has been as good as any rookie in the league.

---So what happened to Brady Quinn playing? I guess not.

---When I watched the Texans beat the Bengals Saturday, I had to think about general manager Rick Smith and the great job he did in the off-season. He made some great moves and he doesn't get enough credit for the job he's done. If the Texans had quarterback Matt Schaub, they'd be a real threat to get to the Super Bowl. 

---Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul guaranteed that the Giants would beat the Packers. A lot will be made of that. It shouldn’t be. Nothing ever said during the week impacts a game. Ever.

---If the Lions don’t get a corner in free agency -- Carlos Rogers? -- it would be a big mistake. They also might want to draft one early in April. The secondary is horrible.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 5:07 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 5:07 pm
 

Playoff Matchups: Bailey vs. Steelers WRs

Broncos corner Champ Bailey vs. Steelers receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown -- Wallace and Brown can fly. Both have big-play ability. But Bailey is one of the best man-cover players in the NFL. Who does he take? I would imagine he would be on Wallace, but he might also spend some time on Brown. This is a battle between a smart veteran corner and two young speedy receivers.

Saints guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans vs. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh  -- Evans has already come out and said Suh does some dirty things on the field. That should stoke this fire a bit. Green Bay's Josh Sitton dominated Suh last week and these two guards are in that class. Suh didn't play in the first meeting when he served a suspension, so this should be fun. To get pressure on Drew Brees, it has to come up the middle since Brees he gets the ball out so fast. That means Suh.

Giants left tackle David Diehl vs. Falcons defensive end John Abraham -- Diehl has struggled at times this season, while Abraham has come on lately. He was bothered by a groin injury earlier this season, but he's healthy now. And it's showing up. The Falcons have moved Abraham around some, so he will line up opposite Kareem McKenzie some, but I imagine he will be over Diehl a bunch.

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow vs. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau -- The Steelers coordinator is one of the best ever. He has a way of devising schemes to stop different offenses. I expect him to come up with a good one to force Tebow to throw the football. The Steelers will likely play a lot of man coverage and drop Troy Polamalu down in the box. That will force Tebow to throw it. Can he? 

Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo vs. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul -- Clabo is a classic self-made player, a mauler who pushes the envelope when it comes to dirty play. Pierre-Paul is an athletic freak who was my pick as the Defensive Player of the Year. Does the mauler win? Or does the special athlete win? This will be fun to watch.

Saints defensive end Will Smith vs. Lions left tackle Jeff Backus -- Smith is the Saints best pass rusher, while Backus is a veteran tackle who has to protect Matt Stafford's backside. Smith isn't as explosive as he once was, but he can still get after the passer. Backus has had trouble with good ends at times this season.

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson vs. Saints corners Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter  -- How do you stop Johnson? You don't. You just try and contain him. Green and Porter are good cover players, but I would think the Saints will give them help over the top. The Saints limited him to six catches and 69 yards in the first meeting. Earlier this season, Green Bay's Tramon Williams did a good job on Johnson but he got the better of the Packers last week. This is big challenge for the Saints corners. Johnson has been on fire.

Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison vs. Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady -- Clady is a good left tackle who has improved as the season moved along, looking more like the 2009 Clady. Harrison is back after missing time with the broken orbital bone and remains a top-level pass rusher. He seems to really excel in the playoffs. Look for Harrison to set the edge to keep Tebow from getting outside the pocket.

Broncos center J.D. Walton vs. Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton -- If the Broncos want to get their spread-option going, they have to handle Hampton. That means Walton has to get inside push to allow the guards to get out on the inside linebackers. Walton had a tough go of it last week against the Chiefs, which is why Denver didn't run it as well. He has to play better here.

Bengals receiver A.J. Green vs. Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph -- Joseph gets a chance to face his former team for the second time this season. The first time, the Texans held Green to five catches for 59 yards as Joseph did a nice job on him.  I would imagine the Texans would put Joseph on Green a lot again in man coverage. Green has a size advantage, so that could play out in the Red Zone.

Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:43 pm
 

Brees breaks Dan Marino's record

NEW ORLEANS -- On a night he took down Dan Marino' single-season record for yards passing, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees did something far more important.

He led his team to a division title.

In doing so, with an impressive carving up of the Atlanta Falcons, Brees passed Marino's record for passing yards in the fourth quarter. The game was stopped to acknowledge the feat, which came on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles with 2:51 left, but for Brees it's far less important than the Saints winning the NFC South.

If the Saints beat the Panthers this Sunday and the 49ers lose to the Rams, the Saints will be the second seed in the NFC. But if the 49ers win, the Saints are locked in as the third seed.

They will be one heck of a dangerous No. 3 seed.

The Saints are riding high behind Brees' arm, which has been hotter than a bucket of Louisiana hot sauce.  It looks like they are on a collision course with the Packers, but you never know in the playoffs.

Posted on: December 26, 2011 10:54 am
 

Monday Musings: Concussion lawsuits overboard

The flurry of lawsuits being filed by former NFL players is strange. I know some players will have problems with post-career medical issues, but here's a question that I have to ask: Didn't they know what they signed up for when they signed that contract? The NFL is a violent game. Period.

Nobody forces players to play. They get compensated to do a job.

Getting hit hard is part of the game. Injuries are part of the game. Concussions are part of the game.

Has the NFL always acted in the players' best interests when it came to injuries? They probably didn't. But how much is on the player himself -- pushing to stay on the field, fearful of losing a job or a check.

I think the NFL's decision to make the game safer now is the right thing to do. Why not be more cautious? But I also don't think that it gives the former players a right to file lawsuits.

For starters: How do we know the concussion issues didn't start in Pop Warner or on the high-school level or at college. Is every former Pop Warner player going to sue his former association? Can I file suit against my high school or my former coach?

The lawsuits allege the league didn't do enough to protect the players from concussions.  These lawsuits will be played out for the next couple of years as players try to prove that they NFL did them wrong.

What's next? Will we see firemen suing their company for being burned in a fire? Or a writer filing suit against his employer because his eyes go bad from being on a computer all day?

It's part of the job. You are compensated to do a job.

Nobody forces NFL players to play. I ask this question: Would any of the players who are parts of those suits trade it all back to not have played the game?

Bet they'd all say no.

I'm all for player safety. And I love the way the NFL has changed the rules to make that possible.

But these lawsuits are over-the-top in my eyes.

Here's what the NFL should do moving forward: Make players sign liability waivers. If you don't sign, you don't play.

Want to bet every player signs?

The rewards are worth the risks. That's why they put their bodies on the line each and every Sunday.

It’s a nasty game. It's a violent game. It's a dangerous game.

But it's also a game you play voluntarily.

---The past two weeks are why Denver Broncos president John Elway won't commit to Tim Tebow long term as his starter. Why would he? Elway knows that the NFL is a passing league now more than ever. Tebow can't pass.

Not in the way you need quarterbacks to pass. That was exposed in a big way against the Bills this week. He threw four interceptions, two were returned for touchdowns, and he looked downright horrible. Tebow can complete the 15-yard slant off the option fake, but when it comes to putting his foot in the ground, reading the field, making the right, accurate throw, he struggles with that.

Tebow holds the ball and he doesn't appear to have a grasp on reading coverages. What the Broncos have done with him this season is just short of a miracle. If they win Sunday against the Chiefs, they will be in the playoffs. Tebow Nation will rejoice. 

But the reality is that it's nothing more than an aberration season, like Kerry Collins going 13-3 for the Titans or David Garrard going 11-5 for the Jaguars. These happen once in a while. But the success isn’t sustainable. Elway knows this. That's why he said Tebow would be back last week, but never said he would be his starter. How could he make the commitment now, especially after seeing Tebow floundering against the Bills Sunday?

This isn't piling on a kid after a bad game, either. It's how I've felt all along since watching his college tapes. Others thought the same, but gave in during his six-game winning streak, but I see too many flaws in his passing to do that. 

---That Tom Coiughlin-Rex Ryan handshake sure was a quick one. I've known Coughlin for a long time, and the one thing he hates is people who talk a lot. Ryan talked a lot leading up to the Giants-Jets game Saturday. Ryan talks the talk, but his teams don't back him up. 

---Why did the Jets throw 59 passes against the Giants? Aren't they the ground-and-pound team? Mark Sanchez isn't good enough to win throwing 59 passes. 

That's why I think Brian Schottenheimer is an overrated coordinator. There is some talk that he could be in trouble.

---Want an underrated coordinator? Look at Carolina's Rob Chudzinski. He has worked wonders with the Carolina offense.  He needs to be a head coach. His work with Cam Newton and the Panthers offense has been impressive.

---The blowout at Detroit will surely cost Norv Turner his job. But I don’t believe the talk of Bill Cowher going there. I think he stays in television.

----Rumor of the week: Jeff Fisher to the Rams if Steve Spagnuolo gets it. I also think Fisher will be in play in San Diego and Jacksonville. 

---Can the Bucs justify keeping Raheem Morris as coach? That's nearly impossible, especially after a season with high expectations and a fleeing fan base. The Bucs have lost nine consecutive games and have done so without competing in a lot of them.

---The first pick in the NFL Draft will go to either the Colts or Rams. Since the Rams have Sam Bradford, they wouldn't take Andrew Luck. But they could be in a position to deal down and add a ton of picks. The Browns, who have two first-round picks, would be wise to keep the Rams on speed dial if that Rams do end up wit the top pick.

---It's always sad to see a star running back tear up a knee. We never know if they will be the same again. That's what I thought as I saw Adrian Peterson's injury as it happened Saturday. It also backs why backs need to cash in when they can and also why teams have to be hesitant to do so. 

---San Francisco's David Akers set an NFL record with his 42nd field goal of the season. Is that a good thing? That means the 49ers are limited offensively. That could be their undoing in the playoffs.

---The Texans miss Wade Phillips. You can see it in the way they played the past two weeks without him on the sideline. Reggie Herring isn't in the same class with Phillips when it comes to calling defenses. The Texans need him back on the sidelines.

---Kudos to the Packers re-built offensive line Sunday night against the Bears. Without both starting tackles, Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga, they held the Bears without a sack. Left guard T.J. Lang moved to right tackle and did a great job on Israel Idonije. Bulaga is expected back for the playoffs, but Clifton is having some back issues and his return is questionable.

Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Monday Musings: Drew Brees is proving he's elite

Drew Brees is playing out of his mind.

He is making great decisions, he's accurate as ever, his vision is unreal and he seems to be one step ahead in his reads of anything the defense is throwing his way.

He's better than ever. And that's saying something.

Brees completed 32 of 40 passes for 412 yards and five touchdowns against the Vikings and didn't come close to finishing the game. He did what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it.

With all the hype about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, Brees hasn't been getting the due he deserves. Brees has 37 touchdown passes and he's completing 71.5-percent of his passes. He leads the NFL with 4,780 yards and should shatter Dan Marino's single-season yardage record of 5,084. 

A few years ago, before he won his first Super Bowl, I asked Brees about being considered an elite quarterback. He said he neded to win one to get there.

Even after he won one, there was still debate about whether he was in the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning class.

Don't doubt it anymore.

He's there. This is a special season for a special quarterback.

---It killed Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware when he had to sit out the second half against Tampa Bay with a stinger in his neck. Why? The Cowboys were ahead and the Bucs had to throw. That means sacks. Ware is third in the NFL in sacks with 16, two behind leader Jason Babin of the Eagles, who took over the lead on Sunday. Minnesota's Jared Allen is second with 17 1/2 sacks. Ware was asked Saturday if he follows Allen's numbers. Ware said he did not. I bet he does. During the summer, Ware talked of taking down the single-season sack record. That's unlikely now, since he would need seven in the last two games. But he also said he's been playing with the stinger the past three games. Ware is a great player. And if you ask me, he'd be my choice as the best defensive player in the NFL.

---Speaking of Babin, it's time to eat some words about him. When the Eagles signed him to a huge contract, I wasn't too high the move. I was wrong.  Babin has been sensational. He has been a perfect fit for the Eagles "Wide-9' defense. He owned Jets right tackle Wayne Hunter Sunday.---You see it on tape, but you can really see it when you watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers live: They don't play fast. They are a slow team. I said that when I saw them on opening day against the Lions, but it was even more evident when they lost to Dallas Saturday night. Their receivers don't win. Running back LaGarrette Blount isn't fast. It's no wonder Josh Freeman has struggled this season.

---There have been 106 individual 300-yard passing performances this season. That's the most in a single season in NFL history. Is there any doubt that the passing game is the way to win games? This is also the first season with two 3,000-yard rookie passers in Andy Dalton and Cam Newton. Pass, pass and more pass. 

---For those out there wondering about Tim Tebow's 7-2 record as a starter, consider this: The two teams he lost to have a combined 20-8 record. The seven he's defeated have a combined 39-56 record, and just one (the 8-6 Jets) has a winning record. Just saying.

---The San Diego Chargers are such a different team with receiver Malcom Floyd in the lineup. They lost all four games they played without him this season. Floyd showed Sunday night against the Ravens what he means when he spent the night blowing past Jimmy Smith for two big play, including a touchdown. For all those wondering what was wrong with Philip Rivers, now we know. It's not having his weapons.

--Kyle Orton to the rescue in Kansas City. Orton actually looked good against Green Bay. How great would it be if Orton and the Chiefs go to Denver in two weeks with a chance to win the division? I would love that.

----Why do the Giants keep playing well against good teams and then gagging against teams they should beat? That doesn't bode well for coach Tom Coughlin.

----How did that Matt Hasselbeck signing work out for the Titans? Lets' see. They almost certainly won't make the playoffs and they kept a rookie on the bench. Good move? I beg to differ. The franchise would have been better off playing Jake Locker all season.

---Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks had a rough go of it against the Redskins. But I still think he's a budding star. The Giants need big games from him to win. He has to come through this week against the Jets if they are to win. ---Where is the big play in the Ravens passing game? Isn't that why Torrey Smith was drafted? He has the speed and he need to be used more. Where was Anquan Boldin against the Chargers? Anybody see him? 

---Reggie Bush is shutting up a lot of people who questioned whether he could be a between-the-tackles runner. This is an "air" league now. Explosive runners like Bush who can run in space are valuable. The grinder isn't anymore. Bush ran for 204 yards against Buffalo Sunday. That was impressive. He's had three consecutive games over 100 yards.  Talking to Bush this summer, he insisted that he could be a big-time inside runner. He's proving it now.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Monday Musings: Titans hurt by bad play calls

If the Titans don't make the playoffs, which they probably won't, they might want to look to two horrible play calls late in their loss to the Saints. Twice in the final four minutes, Titans coach Mike Munchak and his staff made questionable decisions. 

Trailing 22-17 with just over three minutes left, the Titans faced a third-and-1 from the New Orleans 24. Instead of running the football to get a first down, the Titans threw into the end zone but the pass was incomplete. On fourth down, they ran a sneak and Jake Locker was stuffed.

Why not get the first down on third down and go from there? Bad move. Then the Titans got the ball back again with a 1:34 when the Saints foolishly passed on third down and the ball was incomplete on their possession.

 After two passes moved the ball to a first down at the New Orleans 45 with 48 seconds left, the Titans ran Chris Johnson inside. Why? They had no timeouts and they hit two passes in a row. That might have been the dumbest play call I've seen in 10 years. Johnson didn't gain a thing, but more importantly the Titans lost 20 seconds. 

So after a 40-yard completion from Locker to Washington put the ball on the New Orleans 5, the Titans had just seven seconds, time for two plays. Locker's pass was batted down on first down and he was sacked on second. Game over. Two bad play calls, but the run to Johnson on the final drive was the worst.

I just can't see the logic. Even if he pops it for 10, it's not worth the time that would be lost. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

---- They will blame Tony Romo. That's inevitable.

Romo missed a wide-open Miles Austin with his Cowboys leading the Giants 34-29 Sunday night on a third-down play that would have iced the game. Was it a bad throw? A little bit. Was Austin's perfect? Probably not.

But here's my problem: Why not try and get a first down?

The Cowboys went for the kill shot and it ended up killing them.  Facing a third-and-5 at their own 25 with just 2:33 left in the game, the Cowboys tried to go deep to Austin. They had success with deep balls earlier in the quarter, but everything has to be just right to hit them.

The Giants had one time out and the 2-minute warning. A first down essentially ends the game. So why not a short pass to Jason Witten? I like aggressive play-calling, but this was a situation that called for something safer. A first down wins the game. You don't need the touchdown.

As it turns out, the Giants ended up driving 58 yards to a game-winning touchdown.

Blame Romo all you want. I put that on the play that was called.

---I mentioned to you two weeks ago in my CBSSports.com Power Rankings that I thought T.J. Yates would be better than just average. The rookie is showing us that now. He has led the Texans to back-to-back drives to win games in the fourth quarter, the first rookie since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to accomplish that feat. What makes his game-winning drive against the Bengals even more impressive is that he did it without Andre Johnson, who missed the game with an injury. The Texans won't be an easy out in the playoffs, because Yates doesn't act like a rookie.

----Strategy Denver Broncos need to use: Tell Tim Tebow the opening kickoff is actually the overtime toss. Tebow seems to do nothing for three quarters, but flourishes in the fourth. He was horrible for three quarters against the Bears, but somehow found a way to pull it out in the fourth. He made some good throws in the fourth quarter. Of course, it took the illogical to give him even a chance, including Marion Barber's dumb decision to run out of bounds in the final two minutes. If the Bears take three knees -- or three Tebows -- they probably win the game.

---Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris better hope his team plays well in the final three games. After jumping to a 14-0 lead, the Bucs looked lifeless against the Jaguars, losing 41-14. At 4-9, Morris is in big trouble. 

---Maurice Jones-Drew had four touchdowns for the Jaguars against the Bucs. He is having a huge season. Jones-Drew is a tough guy who never backs down. But the scary thing for him is that he's going to be beat up and broken down by the time the Jaguars get good. Call it the "Steven Jackson Syndrome." Jones-Drew is all they have on offense for now.

---We had six passers throw for over 300 yards Sunday. Five won and Romo lost to Eli Manning, who threw for 400 yards. We had nine players go over 100 yards rushing. They went 4-5. You tell me? What's the right way to play?

---So much for Hue Jackson as coach of the year. The Raiders have been horrible the past two weeks. It's more than them just missing all that speed in Darren McFadden Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore

---If Tony Sparano goes in Miami, shouldn't general manager Jeff Ireland go with him? But word is Ireland has become close to owner Stephen Ross. Ireland's reputation in Dallas was that of a guy who made sure he got close to Bill Parcells. Isn't that considered "ass-kissing?"

--Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is a beast. He had two sacks and blocked the potential tying field goal. I loved that kid coming out of South Florida. He was raw, and most scouts downgraded him for that. But he has special athletic ability. The scary thing is he's still learning to play the position. With his long arms and reach, he should take on this nickname: The Condor.

---Come on, Scott O'Brien. You really think Tom Brady needs you in his face? You know what looked like to me? It was a coach trying to make his bones. Some will see that as a plus for O'Brien, standing up to a great. I don’t.

----I hate seeing players injured, but if Matt Hasselbeck's calf injury allows the Titans to start Jake Locker it will be a good thing for the organization. The Titans aren't going to the playoffs, so playing Locker will be good for the long-term health of the franchise.

---Where was Bears defensive end Julius Peppers on the Broncos last two drives? Anywhere? 

 
 
 
 
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