Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NFL Bloggers: What They're Saying [J. Mark English]

  • New England Patriots
    • Reiss Pieces - Nothing fancy or elaborate in the Patriots' attack, which again highlights how the team changes its approach from week to week. In many ways, this was the opposite of what we saw Dec. 24 in Jacksonville, when the Patriots used eight different positional groupings and were shuffling players on and off the field consistently. The Patriots primarily used two positional groupings in San Diego, starting by emphasizing the two-TE package (14 of the first 22 snaps), before drastically altering course and going to the three-WR package. The Patriots weren't having success moving the ball until going to the three-wide on their final first-half drive, and it appears that gave them confidence to stick with it in the second half. One interesting note is how tight end Daniel Graham (2 catches, 38 yards) has been playing more snaps when the team goes to its three-wide package, allowing him to showcase his abilities more as a pass-catcher. Of the team's 44 snaps with three-wides on the field, Graham was the tight end for 31 of them, with Benjamin Watson on the field for the other 13. Earlier in the year, that was a role primarily held by Watson. The team ran only 2-WR sets or 3-WR sets until the final three plays to set up the final field goal.
  • Indianapolis Colts
    • Stampede Blue - So, the AFC Championship game will be the Colts versus the Patriots in Indianapolis. Bill Belichick reminds me of the Cobra Kai's evil dojo master in The Karate Kid. ("Sweep the leg, Johnny") Hopefully Tony Dungy will be able to make like Mr. Miyagi and tweak him on the nose. Hopefully Peyton Manning will not suffer a knee injury from an illegal hit or try the "Crane Technique" to finish off the Pats at the end....This will be only the second time the Patriots have played in Indianapolis since the Colts moved to the AFC South in 2002. The Colts lost that game in 2003, thanks in large part to Patriots player Willie McGinest faking an injury that allowed the Patriots to put a new defensive package on the field -- McGinest was instrumental in stopping that final drive of the Colts before he sprinted off to the Colts logo to celebrate without the slightest evidence of the debilitating leg injury that had been so grievous just two plays before that he had to writhe around on the field and stop play. (This year, I suggest we have an "injury team" that acts like a ball boy in a tennis match, swooping in to scoop "injured" Patriots off the field before they can stop play.)....Meanwhile, since 2002 while the Patriots have played in Indy only once, the Colts have played in Foxboro 5 times, compiling a record of 2-3 in New England. CJ at "Charlie Weiss Ate My Baby" suggests that we send the Patriots head office directions from Mapquest to make sure they know how to get here.
  • Chicago Bears
    • Da' Bears Blog - If they are a great unit (the defense), they'll be great at home on Sunday. The offense will score points - especially with the way Jones and Benson are running. It is up to the defense Sunday and the magic number is 20. Hold these Saints...these incredibly tough to root against Saints...under 20 points...and we'll spend two weeks writing sonnets about you. This is the time for Brian Urlacher to forever extinguish the "overrated" label. This is the time for Tank Johnson to make his season about on the field performance. This is the time for Charles Tillman to catch that ball and take it back for six...The Saints are good. But more importantly, the Saints have magic. Let's take it from them and do as Obama wishes. Let's end the fairytale Sunday. Little Red Riding Hood is coming into Chicago and the Big Bad Wolf is wearing navy blue and orange. These are not the '85 Bears but we never asked them to be. Be the '06 Bears...the defense that shutout the #1 offense in football in the NFC Championship Game.
  • New Orleans Saints
    • New Orleans Saints Blog - Yesterday, Deadspin broke a unique story: New Orleanians are crazy. I know, I know. It shocked me, too. I don't form any psychological analysis, mainly because I don't live in the area and I got a solid C- in my college abnormal psych classes. Besides, if I were to decide to play doctor, I'd focus on my dysfunctions before trying on somebody else's. I think it's safe to say, however, that a primary factor involves the ability to carry drinks from one bar to another....But that should only effect the young, spry locals (and, until they return to the mundanity of their normal lives back at home, tourists). The 24 hour party people. Those who know that "hurricane" in the New Orleans lexicon isn't a catastrophe, it's a drink. ...Then how do you explain this? Unless grandma and grandpa are hitting the sauce (and, keep in mind, I'm not ruling that option out), these lovebirds are kooky. Maybe they're happy that, unlike many Red Sox fans, they have the chance to see a Saints' championship before...you know...going to that place. Either way, they know how to have a good time -- surely, someone considers that a good time, right? -- and their night seems much more peaceful than mine. I watched the game in a house full of Eagles fans and a bottle of Goose, belligerently trying to explain the case for Jahri Evans as rookie of the year. At least I walked out with the last laugh....But yeah. That's a celebration, right there. Part of me hopes it was followed up with some tea and oatmeal raisin cookies (which totally rule, by the way). Apparently the camera person was even older; they weren't even cognizant enough to hold the camera the right way. Crazy old Saints fans: you've gotta love em. Look at mom and dad move their arms in a circular motion! Family hug!

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