The Designed Rush, Week 2: Is The Passing Game Finally Taking A Step Back In 2010?

INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19: Joesph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 19 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

An unquestioned pro football axiom of the last few years is that the NFL has become a passing league. But through the first two weeks, the teams that are pass-heavy are losing more often. We explore that, and other bits and pieces from Week 2.

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In recent years, a dominant NFL running game has come to be accepted as something akin to a charmingly retro but nevertheless outmoded approach to an offensive attack. While a good running game is never not going to be an asset, unless an NFL team has a world-beating defense, it's going to have to have at least a moderately capable passing attack to be halfway successful. You can't say the opposite. There have been plenty of teams in recent years that couldn't run the ball a lick, but have rode big time passing games into deep playoff runs.

The NFL has no problem with this, of course. Hell, it's entirely in keeping with their design. A high-flying passing game is almost always going to be more exciting than a powerful ground game, unless you're talking about someone flashy like Barry Sanders or Chris Johnson.

Then a curious thing happened in Week 1 this season, as pointed out in a nice post by Draft Zoo: whereas 75 percent of the teams that threw the ball more than their opponent won in the first week of the 2009 season, the teams that threw the ball more in Week 1 this season went 6-10, with the six most passing attempt totals all coming in losing efforts. This was despite the fact the average amount of pass attempts was up slightly while the rate of interceptions was significantly down.

The top six passing teams fared slightly better in Week 2, going a whole 1-5. Matt Schaub and the Texans were the lone winner though, in fairness, he was going in a shootout against Donovan McNabb, who posted the sixth highest amount of attempts from the weekend. Once again, the team that threw the ball more went 6-10.

So when Peyton Manning remarked after the win on Sunday night against the Giants that he couldn't remember the last time the Colts offense ran the ball more than they threw, perhaps he was not only pleased that the Indianapolis ground game is finally showing signs of life, but that the Colts also learned a sobering lesson in their Week 1 defeat after witnessing Arian Foster's breakout performance. The league may be encouraging the passing game, but it looks like coaches are finally learning to make teams pay for relying on it too heavily.

NFL Player Tweet Of The Week

"0-2 with miami heat players at the game... Coincidence DWade and Bron? jk. We can't make so many mistakes!"

- Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, Sunday.

Very funny, Miles. But you're the one who reportedly decided to break up with Kim Kardashian, perhaps the trashiest and most surprisingly effective good luck charm ever. I will say the Miami Heat already being associated with bad karma brings me a slight glimmer of hope for the off-season, not that I really want to think ahead to that time of year.

Truth About Advertising

 

I know this must be killing Hipster Runoff. Time was, Apple ads could be counted on to provide mainstream bros with a track from a buzzband that lost its indie cred months earlier. Now, Apple is going so far to use a Cake song from the late '90s.

Has Apple 'sold out'?

Will Cake 'go the distance' with chillwave bros?

Are long jackets 'in'?

Is all fashion cyclical?

Does this open the door for Barenaked Ladies resurgence?

Department Of Michael Tunison Being Hilariously Wrong

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It was just Friday that I was wrote that Vince Young had finally turned the corner toward respectability and possibly even more as a starting quarterback. Not three quarters of action and three turnovers later, he's benched in favor of the damned and decrepit Kerry Collins. Young played poorly, albeit against a Pittsburgh defense playing again at its dominant 2008 level. Not that Collins fared any better, mind you, with two turnovers to his credit in limited work. Ultimately, I think Young be fine in the long run, though it can't be a great sign that Titans coach Jeff Fisher was willing to drop him at the first sign of trouble.

Facepalms Of Note

 

If you want to be pedantic about it, Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo doesn't exactly connect palm to face in reaction to the costly and somewhat questionable roughing the passer penalty Fred Robbins drew late in Sunday's loss against the Raiders, but I'm confident in saying that definitely captures the spirit of the thing. Bonus points for some awkward reftalk from Tony Corrente classifying the move as a "completely unnecessary shove to the ground." Because even the slightest contact with a quarterback who just released the ball is apparently to be considered an act of almost unthinkable malevolence.

 

Though if the NFL is so passionate about protecting quarterbacks, it's curious that this three person piledriver administered to Vince Young yesterday went unpenalized. Either example is a borderline call, though it's surprising the refs would punish the ticky tack and let a forceful hit go. Then again, since Young still had the ball, the refs couldn't claim it was wholly unnecessary.

Dispatches From Madden Nation

The Madden games having a committed audience among actual NFL players means there's going to be a great deal of dissatisfaction about how individuals are presented and rated. That players complain to EA about their skill ratings is nothing new, with Ndamukong Suh being the most recent example. Then again, it's rare that Madden's capacity transcends the country's borders. Let this be a lesson that one must never doubt the potential for Cris Collinsworth to annoy. Apparently, if one shanks a kickoff out of bounds in the game, Collinsworth makes a snide remark about how such a penalty is only worthy of Canadian football. One Canadian player took mild exception, while another said he was proud just to have his league mentioned in a game played by million. Essentially, the quintessential Canadian reaction.

A Delicious Bundle Of Gripes

- There's quite possibly no team in any sport that complains about officiating at the level the Baltimore Ravens do. Has there been any narrow Ravens loss in the past few years that hasn't been put on the referees? Were the Ravens on the wrong end of two borderline calls? Possibly, but as many as went against them went for them in their 10-9 Week 1 victory over the Jets. Last year, the Ravens would never let anyone hear the end of personal fouls that went against them in the regular season against New England. They even found a way to complain in a lop-sided loss to Green Bay later in the season.

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- Speaking of Ravens/Bengals, Adam "the erstwhile Pacman" Jones was one of the half dozen of so people to intercept Joe Flacco on Sunday. Jones has screwed up enough times that any sort of redemption on his part probably wouldn't be as feel-good as other such comebacks, but I'm willing to admit he's a effortlessly hilarious guy. I'm not sure why I found the face he made on the sideline after his interception cracks me up, but it does.

- In its ongoing quest to rid the gameday experience of even slightest shred of merriment, an NFL league official has informed a Bills tailgater that the league did not approve of him dispensing the bowling ball shots that were popular during his pregame parties outside Ralph Wilson Stadium.

- I don't care how well Donovan McNabb plays at any given time. There has not yet nor will there ever be a McFabbulous Day. For shame, James Brown.

 

- Cortland Finnegan announced last week that he would like to catapult from being the sixth most dirty player in the NFL to be tops in the cheap-shotting game. I guess to be the best you have to take a cheap shot at the best. Cortland wasted no time taking a swing at and grabbing the facemask of Hines Ward in the Steelers first offensive possession on Sunday. Finnegan was also later flagged for throwing a punch at Steelers receiver Mike Wallace.

 

- Okay, Dexter McCluster, I promise not to text while driving. No LOLing, no WTFing, no TAFFARDing. Just please...no more rapping. Should we be worried that more of this is in store if your star continues to rise with the Chiefs?


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