Monday, November 15, 2004

Appearances are deceiving

After watching the Lions - Jaguars game again on my TiVo, I must say that I have a very different opinion of what happened than most people on the message boards. From what I saw, Joey actually didn't play anywhere near as badly as some would think. His stats looked bad, but here is what I counted upon further review...

Out of 33 attempts...
- 11 completions
- 9 drops - 3 by KJ, 2 by Roy, 2 by Alexander, 1 by Sledge, 1 by Swinton.
- 5 Excellent D plays on the ball - for example defenders hand in front of Kircus in the end zone, defender strips Roy in end zone, etc...
- 4 passes deflected at the line
- 7 errantly thrown balls

Yes, that adds up to more than 33, and some will question my calling 9 drops. In my humble opinion, even if a ball is not thrown perfectly but it hits a receiver in the hands, they should catch it. That's why I have both 9 drops and 7 errant throws - 3 passes counted as both. I also blame a QB for bad throws and about half the blame for a batted ball. So after my review, I saw Joey making good throws on roughly 24 of 33 passes.

Also there were 2 long completions called back on phantom penalties - Illegal shift on a 27 yarder to Swinton - looked at that play 5 times and still haven't seen an illegal shift. And a 15 yarder to Bryson that got called as an illegal formation - The ref must have lost count on that one... there were 7 on the line. Add those back in, and the stats definitely look better.

I usually refrain from piling on the Ref's because it's usually just an excuse, but today it's appropriate. The Ref's had a BAD day today as there were at least 5 penalties that were flat out wrong calls. The most infuriating ones had to be the 2 calls where a defender jumped, causing the O-Line to jump. They called one as an encroachment, one as illegal procedure, and both just happened to go against the Lions. They missed on at least 3 obvious pass interference calls where Roy and Swinton got mugged as well. With how bad the officiating was, they could have been called the 12th man for Jacksonville.

On the bright side, KJ looked like what we thought he would when he actually was given the rock 20 times. He ran with AUTHORITY and showed a lot of why he was a 1st round draft choice. He also showed exactly why the coaches were afraid to play him full time as he whiffed on a few blocks and dropped 3 passes. The drops on the pass plays were alarming in that none of them were what I would call difficult catches. Even with that, he needs more touches and plays, and he'll get better in both of those areas.

Our O-Line actually had a significantly better day than they had previously. KJ actually had some holes to run through (although he did get hit in the backfield on about 7 carries out of 19. Joey was under some pressure, but it was not nearly as bad as the last two games. Someone must have given them a wake up call after the last two games.

Our D still shows that when a RB with some speed decides to take it outside, they can burn us. Our OLB's and DE's just aren't that good at containing a fast runner to the outside. Our tackling is also still a concern. There were blown tackles on nearly every run that Taylor made any significant yardage on. He made Bryant and Bly look really bad when they tried to tackle him - Bryant got run over twice, and Dre relied on going low and rolling into his legs to stop him.

The single biggest problem today was the dropped balls. We looked like we couldn't catch a cold out there today. It's a continuation of the last two games as we've dropped a lot of passes in each of the three losses. I wish I knew an explaination for it, but these guys are pro's, and there really is no excuse. Combine that with the excellent play by the Jag's CB's (and they were awesome today - they didn't look like they miss Bryant at all), and it was a hard day for the passing game.

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