Paulie Pigskin's Sideline Report: Cards beat Browns
"Big Red" Skelton - More with Less: The coaches call it "poise." They say that John Skelton has it. An abundance of it. And, during our postgame radio interview, Todd Heap admitted that he can't get over it.
"He doesn't get flustered. You see his demeanor just in his body language and he's that way all the time," Heap said.
With that in mind, I went Q&A with Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt on his second year quarterback…
PP (Paulie Pigskin/Pencilneck): "Beyond his 5-1 record in 2011, what else should we know about John Skelton?
Whisenhunt: "This kid has not had an off-season and he really hasn't had a full training camp, because he got hurt this year and he didn't even get any reps in last year's camp, so it's on-the-job training for him."
PP: (Nod & hold mic a little longer)
Whisenhunt: "You know what he seems to do, he seems to make those huge plays when it's really critical... and you can't coach and you can't train his ability to not let it bother you. You know, sometimes it's his enemy because he looks a little bit like ‘no fire, no intensity, he doesn't get into it.' But I'll take it. I'll take that demeanor because you know what you're going to get and as he gets better and better, he has a chance to be a really good QB."
Heapin' Helpin' of No-Huddle: Speaking of Todd Heap, that's who I was interviewing when I played the role of dumb-guy (again) and asked Heap to explain what the no-huddle scheme does for the offense? Heap: "It turns the defense into more of a basic look. They can't get in and out of personnel (groups) and in and out of defensive calls. We put pressure on (Cleveland) in that respect. Skelton was able to see the same things quite a bit and it defined it for him a little bit."
Paulie Play Call x 2: On the shovel pass (4th Qtr/1st & Goal) that fans wanted to smack with a shovel, Cards' coaches told me that once the Browns defense penetrated the backfield, the shovel pass should've been thrown incomplete at the feet of the receiver. In other words, throw it away instead of getting thrown down for the sack.
On the big pass play to Fitz (BIG, BIG, play) to set up the game-winning field goal in OT, coaches described it this way: "Larry is outside of the bunch and has the option to run the post or the corner route based on the coverage. Safeties stayed inside and Larry took the corner…" Ding.
OB Forcing OT: How rare is it to register two sacks on two straight snaps? Well, put it this way: Paulie Pocket Protector ain't gonna crunch those numbers. (Remember our rule - No Math.)
Instead, I'll more than settle for the opinion of O'Brien Schofield, since he just accomplished that feat in the 4th quarter: "It is rare because once you win the first time, they're more attentive and really trying to not get beat again," said Schofield.
On the second sack that forced the fateful fumble, OB told me that he ran a two-man game of sorts with Darnell Dockett.
"Dock said ‘let's run a game.' He told me ‘get upfield as far as I can and he was going to smash the tackle' and he did that and I was able to come free and make a sack and forced the fumble," Schofield said.
Feely… Nothing More Than Feely: How did I know the Cards were preparing for a game-winning field goal? Because I took a blindside shove out of the way by kicker Jay Feely, who, unbeknownst to Paulie Sideline, had repositioned his kicking net to face the same direction as the Cards offense in OT. (Note to Self: I just found out the hard way why the Cards kicker wears gloves - to manhandle sideline personnel, if needed.)
Luckily, for both of us, the sideline stress level decreased dramatically after John Skelton connected with Larry Fitzgerald down to the 4-yard line.
"I thought it was going to be a 54 yarder. But when John threw the great ball and Larry caught it, I was just relieved," Feely said.
"It was a good weekend for the Feely's too. My brother hit a 43 yard field goal with 37 seconds left to give his team the state championship down in Florida," Feely continued. "So, that was an awesome weekend for us." (Note to Self II: turns out, I should've been interviewing his brother!)
P-Twice - Once Is Enough: Speaking of wearing batting gloves, here's what Jay Feely shared when I asked him about his postgame conversation with Patrick "Game Changer" Peterson, fresh off his 32 yard punt return in OT.
"I said to him in the locker room - you're like Barry Bonds. They give you one pitch down the middle and you're going to hit a home run," Feely explained. "It's not easy to kick the ball out of bounds and keep it away from him. They did a great job all game, but one bad kick and he's going to make you pay."
By the way, for the record: last week, during our TV interview, P-Twice turned to the camera and said: "I need to break the record. So, kick it to me Cleveland, pleeeease!" Ding - almost.
Z-Man: After the game, I asked Cleveland- area native Dave Zastudil about reports that a fan was spotted in the house wearing a Browns jersey with "Zastudil" on the back? Did we mention that Zastudil is the punter? #Really?! "It's my brother," the former Browns punter answered immediately. "When I asked him about it, he said: ‘Hey, it's my name too…'"
Deadpan Alley: And, just to complete the trifecta of "Wise Guy Specialists" on the sideline, long snapper Mike Leach responded to my hard-hitting question regarding his thoughts on the brand new grass field at University of Phoenix Stadium with: "Oh yeah, my pregame receiver routes were outstanding, really crisp…" Okay, that's enough. (Note to Self III: can anybody give me a straight answer? I've got a job to do here people, reporting on how the grass is growing, for instance…)
Paulie Protest: Finally, we refuse to replay the TV broadcast on the DVR this week. Why? Because CBS is bad for business. How dare the network suits eliminate the sideline reporter - when football fans en masse clamor for the inside scoop & poop straight from the field… uh, right?! #Gulp