The Designed Rush: Wade Phillips Fired (Soon), Patriots Porous D, And Other First Half Lessons

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Running back Peyton Hillis #40 and Alex Mack #55 of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after a touchdown against the New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 7 2010 in Cleveland Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

We take a look at a few lessons gleaned from the first half of the NFL season, including the moment Wade Phillips lost his job, the problems with the Patriots that could allow them to lose to the Browns, head shot penalties, and more.

Now that we are officially at the halfway point of the 2010 NFL season, it's time to take a look at a few lessons we've learned so far:

Wanna see the moment Wade Phillips got fired? Here you go:

Sure, it probably happens anyway, but a screw-up of this scale in the midst of an unending rout makes Wade's dismissal all but vital to keep the team from entirely phoning it in the rest of the year.

The Patriots' defensive issues are a huge liability when the offense isn't clicking - Some readers bristled when I listed New England among my teams in danger of a second-half slide because their defense isn't even up to the level of the "bend but don't break" units of recent years and far from the days of their dynasty. You can argue whether or not trading Randy Moss was a smart move, but the offense has been stagnant the past few weeks and the defense isn't good enough to hold off the opposition unless the other team commits a ton of sloppy turnovers, as San Diego and Miami did facing them.

Matt Stafford's inability to stay healthy costs the Lions legitimacy - Detroit very nearly pulled off an attention-grabbing upset over a Jets team with offensive problems of its own. Stafford ended up injuring the same shoulder that cost him to miss several weeks earlier this season. It's become an unfortunate theme so far early in his career and, unless he can stay healthy at some point, Stafford's durability concerns might stymie what is otherwise a team on the rise.

Todd Haley could benefit from being more conservative - Though it was matched by another unsuccessful attempt by the Raiders, the Chiefs cost themselves with a failed fake punt attempt Sunday in Oakland. Taking big chances has been a recurrent theme in the Chiefs' season, most notably and unfortunately in the team's loss to Indianapolis. Granted, these sort of things always get interpreted differently depending whether they are successful or not, but Haley really needs to be able to trust his team at some point to have to succeed without risky subterfuge.

A tweak needs to be made to the "head shots" ruling to protect defensive players who hit receivers who have lowered their head before impact - There's no reason why the Kirk Coleman hit Austin Collie hit should have been flagged and it will be shame when Coleman gets fined by the league for it, because he will. Roger Goodell responds to media pressure and shown he prosecutes results of hits instead of their legality. It's the same deal with the James Harrison shot on Massaquoi. The league wants to enforce proper tackling technique to protect receivers and that's admirable, but the NFL has to teach receivers not to put themselves in a position that will lead to injury as well.

NFL Player Tweet Of The Week

OCNN NEWS: I feel that calvin johnson is top 5 wrs in the league.less than a minute ago via ÜberTwitter


Forget a confirmed account, the true measure of a big-time Twitter user is whether they can preface a simple expression of opinion with the idea that it's news.


"SBN NEWS: XBox Kinect has potential, but still questionable whether it's worth the $150 price tag."

Truth About Advertising

We here at SB Nation have run afoul of NyQuil ads in the past that have shown athletes bombed out on the stuff. Now it enters my domain with Vince Wilfork and Jason Witten appearing, conked out and doozing loudly in spots. Though I share Jon Bois' gripes about the concept, I will say it does kind of suit Wilfork pretty well. He's like a giant hibernating bear, which is probably how you would prefer him to be rather than flying elbow first at your quarterback's knee.

Chad Ochocinco PAT Attempt Obviously Forthcoming

One of the more unexpected themes of yesterday was random position players attempting extra points when kickers went down with injury. Wes Welker converted one. Ndamukong Suh was slightly less successful. Never one to be outdone, Chad Ochocinco has doubtlessly been in Marvin Lewis' ear about trying it tonight against the Steelers. Remember, of course, that Ochocinco kicked an extra point in a preseason game last year. Mike Nugent might want to watch out.

Facepalms Of Note

Perfect distillation of the experience of being a fan of a Andy Reid coached team. This exasperated Eagles fan shown above is reacting to the foolish challenge of Jason Avant being ruled short of the goal line at the beginning of the 4th quarter, followed by the decision to sneak Michael Vick, playing in his first game since returning from a rib injury, on the subsequent play. The first one failed, so Reid called it again. Though the second sneak was successful, the score likely came at the cost of three veins in this guy's head.

The Hangdog Expression Of Todd Haley Should Be Preserved In Amber For The Ages


A long subtitle perhaps, but I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure this image of downcast douche Todd Haley is enjoyed by generations to come.

A Delicious Bundle Of Gripes


- Dan Dierdorf: still the worst. After a Haloti Ngata sack yesterday, Greg Gumble manages to pronounce his name correctly, as pretty much any announcer working NFL games is able to do at this point. Would that stop Dierdorf from flubbing nearly every possible syllable? Obviously you know not his prowess for deliberate idiocy.

- Raheem Morris is retracting his earlier claim that the Bucs are the best team in the NFC. No, don't lose heart, Raheem. It would be even more powerful, not to mention hilarious, if he stubbornly stood by his assertion even as the Bucs predictably and inevitably fall from the ranks of playoff contenders. Insist that Goodell refer to Tampa as the best team in the NFC when they make their pick around the 15 slot in next year's draft.

- Whether Wade Phillips is fired by the Cowboys will surely dominate NFL coverage all week, but Chargers special teams coach Steve Crosby is certainly just as deserving a candidate for a humiliating dispatch. The Chargers allowed a staggering fifth blocked punt of the season against Houston. Of course, even though intrepid leader Norv Turner admits the errors have been mental rather than physical, somehow the return of a few injured veterans is going to turn the tide. Apparently Norv wants in on the firing parade, as well.

- Kind of a dick move by Logan Mankins to dump Aaron Hernandez on the ground when the rookie tight end tried to leap into his grasp after catching his first career touchdown catch. Yeah, goof on the rookie, but when you're making your first start of the season, as Mankins was after sitting out because of a contract dispute, maybe it's worth showing a little more outward


- You know, it was hard to imagine something in this sequence to best Jacoby Jones dropping a giftwrapped touchdown in terms of pure unalloyed fail, but that was until the camera panned toward the end zone stands.

REALTREE! GAHH! DAMN YOU! Look, I'm willing to acknowledge some stark differences in culture between my citified East Coast upbringing and the RULL AMURRICAN VALUES of Houston and its surroundings, but I thought we as a nation decided to take a unified stance against the Realtree jerseys. Don't make us dispatch the National Guard to clear this out.


- I was previously unaware that Duce Staley is a coaching intern with the Eagles. When I saw him yesterday, I just assumed he was continuing his habit of being fat and in a fleece on the sidelines, possibly his greatest contribution during his playing days.


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