Much Ado About All 22

Much Ado About All 22

Football junkies received an early Christmas present last week when NFL.com announced coaches film would be part of the Season Plus package on the site's Game Rewind program in 2012.

For the low price of $69.99, any writer, fan, or student of the game can access the "All-22" view of every play from every game for this upcoming season, which differs from broadcasts in that it reveals what every player on the field is doing at all times. You've no doubt seen All-22 footage dissected on TV before, and as the term coaches film implies, it's what teams use to study their own performance and gameplan for opponents.

Not to make the controversy out to be bigger than it is, as there's a good chance you hadn't even heard the news, let alone the bluster of a few, but there was a surprising amount of backlash to the NFL's latest offering. In providing fans an unprecedented level of access, the concern is second-guessing of players and coaches will increase dramatically as self-proclaimed experts become more certain of their knowledge.

Frankly, I don't see how we could fit any more second-guessing into our culture of watching sports.

Second-guessing is already happening at every level of discourse. Sports writers, whether they're high-profile or on blogs such as ours, are natured to second-guess what we see. Sports talk radio is nothing but a lot of second-guessing, and entire shows on ESPN are based on debating -- or second-guessing -- national stories across multiple sports. And fans, the people who buy tickets and merchandise, are the ultimate second-guessers, and are all too eager to demonstrate their second-guessing right in the midst of the action with a chorus of boos.

Furthermore, we're supposed to believe the tsunami waves of second-guessing as Joe Shmoe targets specific play calls or player mistakes will place additional pressure on the men on the field. I was at Lincoln Financial Field the night half the stadium chanted "Fire Andy," then filed out the gates in a mass exodus that left me wondering if they would ever come back. It's hard to imagine Andy Reid being more scrutinized, his relationship with the fans more strained than they are, yet he's still here. It's in the front office's best interests to block the noise to an extent, and make sound decisions for the future of the franchise, not entirely off of outside reaction.

The idea second guessing will grow is obviously nonsense, but more specifically, some are worried football hobbyists will mistake their obsession for unmistakeable knowledge. I'm sure that will be the case for a sub-set of Game Rewind subscribers, but the only way that's any different from present day is their rationale. People already tend to lend more credence to their own opinions in the first place -- now it will be that, and a smug, "I watched the tape."

Building on the alleged problem, critics of the feature contend that watching the All-22 feed will not make you a smarter football fan. You have the coaches tape, but you still won't know what the play call was, what each player's assignment was, where the quarterback's progressions were, etc. In essence, you'll have a bunch of untrained head coaches trying to decipher that which they cannot possibly understand.

This is where the divide really breaks down. That nothing gleaned from the All-22 look could be accurate without more information and some NFL experience is simply false. I'm not saying watching coaches film automatically transforms the viewer into an expert, but you have the chance to observe parts of the game you simply cannot during a traditional broadcast. Arguing outsiders could never understand what they are seeing is the same as arguing we never understand any of what we see on Sundays, and that's insulting.

While I think the only real controversy here is the bait-and-switch pricing NFL.com pulled last Friday, quickly raising the price $10 shortly after announcing the availability, ultimately it won't matter in 2012, as the NFL won't be removing a feature that's generated a buzz in a service that had none at all prior. Whether All-22 film remains in future years remains to be seen, but I have a feeling the only change we'll see in the immediate future is an escalating price as more and more hardcore fans and industry types flock to access this cool service.

>> Game Rewind [NFL.com]

Best of NFL: Redskins notch first win on Hopkins' field goal vs.Giants

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USA Today Images

Best of NFL: Redskins notch first win on Hopkins' field goal vs.Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter for his fifth of the game and the Washington Redskins avoid a near-disastrous 0-3 start with a 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone New York Giants on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as the banged-up Redskins (1-2) handed new coach Ben McAdoo his first loss with the Giants (2-1).

Su'a Cravens ended the Giants' final drive with an interception in New York territory. It was Eli Manning's second pick of the quarter, with the other coming in the end zone by Quinton Dunbar after New York got to the Redskins 15 on a big play by Odell Beckham Jr.

This was a wild NFC East matchup that see-sawed the entire second half after Washington rallied from a 21-9 deficit.

The fourth quarter was wild with the matchup of Beckham and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, leading to big plays by Beckham, an ejection of Giants center Weston Richburg and a personal foul against Norman for a big hit on Sterling Shepard.

In the end, Washington made the big plays in avoiding the 0-3 start. Only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after losing three in row to start the season.

The Giants had 11 penalties 128 yards, including a third-down hit to the helmet by Olivier Vernon that kept the Redskins' game-winning drive alive.

Shane Vereen scored on a 1-yard run, Manning threw a 23-yard TD to Shepard and Orleans Darkwa scored on a 2-yard run for New York. Josh Brown kicked two short field goals, the last a 30-yarder that gave New York a 27-26 lead with 7:53 to play (see full recap).

Vikings stop Newton, snap Panthers' home win streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- The Minnesota Vikings keep finding ways to overcome injuries --and keep finding ways to win football games.

Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a score and the Vikings snapped the Carolina Panthers' 14-game home winning streak 22-10 on Sunday.

The Vikings put the clamps on Cam Newton, intercepting the league's reigning MVP three times and getting eight sacks, one of those resulting in a safety by Danielle Hunter. The eight sacks were the second-most ever against Newton.

"We have a great team -- the best team I have been a part of," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. "We come from every area on the field and we get sacks."

Said Newton: "They were dictating to us after they got the momentum."

The Vikings improved 3-0 despite losing running back Adrian Peterson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil to injuries last week. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason.

The Panthers were averaging 42 points per game in their last three home games, but could do little after bolting to a 10-0 lead. The Vikings held Carolina wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess without a catch.

"For him not to have any touches is baffling," Newton said of Benjamin. "We have to find ways" to get him the ball.

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the Vikings focus was on shutting down Benjamin.

"We just knew where Benjamin was the whole time," Munnerlyn said. "Funchess, we weren't worried about him. It was Kelvin Benjamin. Me personally, I think No. 17 (Funchess) is not that good, so we weren't really worried about him." (see full recap)

Bills bounce back with win over Cardinals
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.  -- LeSean McCoy scored twice and safety Aaron Williams returned a botched field-goal snap 53 yards for a touchdown in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 20-yard run at a time the Rex Ryan-coached Bills spent the past week taking the brunt of criticism after opening the season 0-2.

The win also came on the heels of Ryan firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replacing him with running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

McCoy scored on 24- and 5-yard runs, and finished with 110 yards rushing after combining for just 117 in his first two games. Taylor had 76 yards rushing, including a 49-yarder, the longest by a quarterback in team history.

Ryan's defense also bounced back after allowing 493 yards in 37-31 loss to the New York Jets on Sept. 15. The Bills limited Arizona to 348 yards and intercepted Carson Palmer on each of Arizona's final four possessions.

Stephon Gilmore had two interceptions.

Arizona (1-2) unraveled a week after a 40-7 win over Tampa Bay, and had a five-game road winning streak snapped going back to last season (see full recap).

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Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

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The Associated Press

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of clich√© to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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