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East Coast Offense: 2008 East Coast Offense-Week 4

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

East Coast Offense

By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor

Quarterback Abuse Points
If you thought what Dusty Baker did to Mark Prior was bad, what about what Jon Gruden did to Brian Griese on Sunday? Griese, who's had two shoulder surgeries earlier in his career, attempted a whopping 67 passes against the Bears. Only Drew Bledsoe, who holds the record for attempts in a single game with 70, Vinny Testaverde, Jon Kitna and George Blanda have ever attempted more. Where are the pitch count police when you need them to jump sports? But seriously, some coaches should have to account for quarterback abuse - like Dom Capers who allowed No. 1 overall pick David Carr to take 76 sacks as a rookie. Mike Martz is notorious for sending out multiple receivers on virtually every play and leaving his quarterback unprotected. Since 2000, a Martz quarterback has never taken less than 40 sacks, and Jon Kitna took 114 from 2006-2007.
Current Martz quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan is tied for the league lead in that department this year with 13 in three games. Of course he has a stellar 9.4 YPA, but if you measure it sack-adjusted, i.e., subtract out the 62 yards lost on sacks, and add on the 13 passing attempts that resulted in those negative yards, his number is 7.4. That's still a great number for a sack-adjusted measure of effiency, but consider that Philip Rivers leads the NFL in standard YPA at 9.9 and has taken just two sacks for seven yards.
Incidentally, despite Griese's 67 attempts on Sunday, he was never sacked. God Bless Norv Turner
What Turner did was not nearly as heroic as Mike Shanahan's two-point try in Week 2, but it gets added points for being stupid. With the Chargers up 16 with two minutes left in the game, Turner elects to kick a 49-yard field goal on 4th and 2 from the Jets' 32-yard line. Of course, I had the Bolts minus 10, so I was ecstatic. Once Nate Kaeding's field goal sailed through the uprights, putting the Chargers up 19, the backdoor cover (a very real possibility with two minutes left and San Diego playing prevent) was dead. (Why Turner would risk a blocked field goal, rather than simply going for it to ice the game, I have no idea).
Minnesota's Twin
While looking over this week's slate of games (for handicapping purposes) with my brother, I couldn't help but notice how similar the Vikings and Titans are. Both teams jettisoned their young, running quarterbacks for veteran journeymen recently. Both teams have a dynamic young running back that dropped jaws shortly after his debut. Both teams have excellent offensive and defensive lines and run far more than they throw. The Titans have a better pass defense and a better coach, but I'm still not sure there are two more similar teams in the league.
Walking the Walk
Last week I warned people not to give up on proven players off to slow starts, so when Yahoo! Sports' Scott Pianowski offered me Randy Moss, I had to try and hammer out a deal. We settled on Santana Moss, which I think is about market value at this point. While Randy Moss hasn't done anything since Week 1, keep in mind that receivers are often taken out of particular games (the best example I can remember was in the 2005 playoffs when Steve Smith absolutely torched the Bears in Carolina's upset win, and then the Seahawks completely shut Smith down in the NFC title game). Moss has the added handicap of playing with unpolished and unfamiliar quarterbacks, but the NFL is all about making adjustments, and I can't imagine after getting smoked at home by Miami that big ones aren't coming for the Pats after the bye week. One of those adjustments must be to get Moss involved. Heavily. Otherwise, the Pats might as well tip the king and jockey for good 2009 draft position. So I'm rolling the dice here even though I really like Santana Moss who's a tremendous deep threat and dangerous open-field runner when healthy.
Things to Take Away From Week 3

  • Ronnie Brown's ACL recovery is going decently.
    Remember all of those "he's way ahead of schedule" reports that we mocked when he couldn't beat out Ricky Williams in camp? Turns out they were true.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson and his toe are going to be fine.
    Not only is Tomlinson considering a full-practice week after getting 26 carries on Monday night, but he got several of those carries when the team was up 38-14 in the second half. And lest you worry too much about his 3.3 YPC over three games, consider that Philip Rivers is averaging almost 10 yards per passing attempt! At some point teams will figure out that it's better not to focus on Tomlinson when playing the Chargers, and the holes will open up. Plus the team just got Marcus McNeill, one of the best run-blocking tackles in the game back last week. Once he shakes off the rust, that will only help.
  • The best time to commit penalties is on a two-point conversion attempt.
    As the Chargers committed three penalties on the Jets' two-point conversion attempt, and each time saw the ball moved forward just a fraction of a yard, I started thinking the defense should go all out, grabbing, holding and clutching to prevent the conversion, as the downside after each penalty was less and less. But if you get away with just one defensive foul, you prevent points. It's worth noting that if San Diego committed an infinite number of penalties, the Jets would be awarded a touchdown because the limit of 1/2 to x power as x approaches infinity is zero. (Those who actually know math, bear with me if that's not the right way to put it, but you get what I mean).
  • Rookie running backs are taking over the league
    How many of you realize that Chris Johnson leads the AFC in rushing through three weeks? Or that Matt Forte (409) is second only to Frank Gore (412) in yards from scrimmage? Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Slaton and Felix Jones have all made significant contributions so far. And Rashard Mendenhall is going to take over for the injured Willie Parker this week. The only ones whose stock has fallen since draft day are Kevin Smith, who might have lost his job to Rudi Johnson, and Ray Rice. And don't forget about Ryan Torain who should come back sometime around midseason and could take over in a prolific offense.
  • Drew Brees loses another top receiving option
    After losing Marques Colston for several weeks, Brees lost tight end Jeremy Shockey for 3-6 weeks due to a hernia. Robert Meachem is the upside play, but Brees spreads the ball around so much, it's hard to know at this point whether Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, David Patten (also hurt) or even Billy Miller will benefit. Reggie Bush should continue to be a monster, especially in PPR leagues. Incidentally, Giants GM Jerry Reese dealing Shockey for a second-round pick looks pretty good about now. Count on Reese to draft a Hall of Famer with it.

Things to watch for in Week 4
  • How will Adrian Peterson (hamstring) hold up against a very physical Titans defense, and if he struggles, will Brad Childress get Chester Taylor more carries to moderate Peterson's workloads?
  • How will a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger hold up against a very physical Ravens defense, especially after being dumped nine times by the Eagles?
  • How will Jason Campbell fare in his second game against a tough defense this season? (His first against the Giants was a disaster, but he's since put up two good games against weaker opponents).
    Beating the Book
    The Redskins covered last week, which puts us at 3-0 in this forum so far this season. We're 31-15 overall.
    Cardinals +2 at Jets
    We're taking another favorite, believe it or not - the third week in a row we've done it even though we usually like to go underdog heavy. And we're going against the Cardinals again who are a bit overrated based on two wins against mediocre opponents. The Jets are desperate at 1-2, and should bounce back after a beating in San Diego. Moreover, the two-point line assumes the Cards are the better team (three is usually required to offset home-field advantage for equal teams), and we don't think they've proven that yet. Back the Jets.
    Jets 27 - 19

    We were 6-10 in this forum last year, but 127-120 on the season overall. From 1999-2007 we're 1184-1018 (53.8%, not including ties).

    The full article comes out on Thursday morning.

    Surviving Week 4

    It's a good thing we burned the Patriots in Week 1, otherwise we might have taken them last week (we had already taken the Giants in Week 2). Instead we were left with the Chargers who cruised pretty easily after an early Philip Rivers pick that was returned for a score. As a result, we're still alive, and it's nice to see most of our pools thinned out by more than half.

    It's a close call between the Cowboys and Broncos this week, and for now, we're going with Dallas, though we reserve the right to change our minds when the full article comes out on Thursday. Playing a good team that's also a hated division rival is always tough, but the Cowboys are a cut above the Redskins offensively, particularly at the quarterback position where Jason Campbell has to prove he can get it done against a good defense. Plus Dallas is at home, and Washington's missing its best defensive lineman, Jason Taylor. We give the Cowboys a 79 percent chance to win this game.

    Article first appeared 9/24/08