My weekly CHFF column just posted. This week I take on the Chargers.
Long time readers know that I hate playing the Chargers. My father-in-law is a huge San Diego fan, and the games are always stressful for me.
I also think Norv Turner may be the worst game manager in football. Anyone who saw the final 6 minutes of the Seattle game on Sunday would have to agree.
So, Colts fans, even though this story isn't about your team, I think you'll all enjoy it anyway!
Site notes: I'll post the AccuScore preview later today. Eyes will be up in the morning.
Welcome back Kasey_Junk for what for now (happily) seems to be a weekly look at a key drive.
The question is: Why do they have to?
The answer: it's a game of chicken.
Here's the situation in brief: The old rules for labor/management relations (CBA) have been voided by the owners. The owners hated the old rules because they thought they didn't make enough money.
At the end of this year, the owners will likely lock out the players. That is to say, they won't let them come to work. They want to do this to force the players into a bad position financially where they have to settle for a bad deal with the owners.
The players' union has set up a provision to decertify (cease to become a union). They haven't taken this step yet, but they are ready to, if talks break down. If there is no union, the owners can't lock out the players. It would be illegal. The players would show up to work with all their current contracts intact. It's not a good long term solution, but it would force the owners' hand in the sort run.
The owners don't want to play by the old rules any more, so they have to do something to make the players not want to play under the old rules either.
This is where the 18 game season comes in. A provision in the CBA gives the Commissioner the unilateral right to establish a season of up to 20 total games. He doesn't need the players approval for it.
However, in a NEW CBA (not yet negotiated), the players would have to approve any and all changes. So, today the owners presented the player an 18 game season plan. They don't have to do so UNLESS there is a new CBA signed (which is what the OWNERS want). The 18 game season is an sword suspended over the head of the players. If they choose not to negotiate, break up the union and show up to work next year under old rules, they'll have to play 18 games for the same money as before.
They obviously don't want to do more work for the same money.
By offering the players an 18 game proposal, the owners are screaming, "WE WANT A NEW CBA!". The players are now over a barrel. If you don't think they'd like 18 games for more money, they sure won't like 18 games for the same money.
If there is football next year, it's going to require a new agreement.
This is turning into a game of who will blink first.
I'm not sure who the chicken is, but it's the fans who likely be fried.
Cover-3 takes a look at young corners today, and focuses on Jerraud Powers
It's getting a front page link because:
1. It's good
2. It's relevant to this past Sunday's game. In the piece, Doug Farrar notes:
In talking to Powers, I was struck by differences in defenses. It's my impression that with the Colts and other teams that frequently play no-blitz zone out of a lot of four-man fronts, the defense is about discipline and assignment-correctness and not trying to do too much, as "boring" as that sounds. Perhaps man-heavy, multiple-front defenses rely more on specifically outstanding athletic performances, though "doing your job" is still the primary focus?
I know the secondary had a rough day on Sunday, but some points need to be mentioned again. Without stepping too much on 18 Plays (recording tonight), the Broncos hit a lot of big plays for a few reasons:
1. Melvin Bullitt failed to help his corners multiple times.
2. Some plays were made because corners were too aggressive. There was one where Powers went for a pick on third down. Had he just played straight and made the tackle, Indy would have gotten the ball back anyway.
3. Denver has some talented WRs.
Orton's big day was similar to Arian Foster's. While the LBs played over aggressive against Houston and allowed big runs, the corners played over aggressive against Denver and allowed big passes.
The good news is: it's fixable. The other good news is: Indy corners (Hayden, Lacey and Powers) all made multiple great plays in coverage on Sunday. It's a talented bunch.
A little more discipline and a little more help from the safety, and everything will be fine.
Indy 'solves' the linebacker problem by bringing Tyjuan Hagler back and cutting Gijon Robinson.
Hagler has been a starter for the Colts whenever he's been healthy. Robinson's most famous play was not coming out of his stance on 3rd and 1 in San Diego.
No downside to this move...
UPDATE: There were a couple of other practice squad signings:
The Colts also have added two players to the practice squad in fullback/tight end Matt Clapp and wide receiver Chris Brooks. The team had announced Tuesday the release of quarterback Tom Brandstater from the practice squad and had promoted wide receiver Blair White late last week to the active roster.
As a side note, now that White is a known commodity, I have to wonder if the Colts will risk putting him back on the PS. I think he hangs around all season now.
Peyton Manning is off to incredible start to his 2010 campaign. No quarterback has ever thrown three straight games of 3 TDs and 0 INTs to open a season. At 34 years old, Manning is set to have one of the great 'old guy' years ever.
The following is a list of the 10 best quarterbacking seasons by a guy age 34 or older:
10. Vinne Testaverde, 1998, Age 35
One of three old QBs to post an incredible year in 1998, Vinnie led the Jets to a 12-1 record in games he started. The threw 29 TDs to just 7 picks, and made his second (and last) Pro Bowl. In the process he took the Jets all the way to the AFC Title game. Testaverde would later become the poster geezer for the Old Quarterback Club. He played until age 44, though he never replicated the success of his 1998 campaign.
9. Randall Cunningham, 1998, Age 35
Cunningham's career resurrection coincided with the amazing rookie year of Randy "The QB Maker" Moss. Cunningham rode the Moss train to a league high 8.0 yards per attempt and the top passer rating in the game at 106.0. His 34 touchdowns and 10 picks helped the Vikings to a 15-1 record. They missed the Super Bowl thanks to a missed field goal. It would be the final top season of Cunningham's career, and he would never appear in more than six games in a season again.
8. Roger Staubach, 1979, Age 37Staubach got better almost every year he played, and he saved the best for last. In his final season, he led the NFL in passer rating, throwing 27 TDs to just 11 picks. He threw for a career high 3586 yards at 7.8 yards per attempt. The Cowboys won 11 games, and the NFC East before dropping a two point game in the playoffs.
7. Kurt Warner, 2008, Age 37
In one magical year, Warner rewrote his own story (again), changed forever the perception of a franchise (again), made the Super Bowl (again), and threatened to beat down the doors to Canton (again). Warner put up a near MVP season of 30 TDs, 4583 yards, and a passer rating of 96.9. In the process he took a 9-7 Cardinals team all the to the Super Bowl, only to lose by a toenail. Unlike other guys on this list, Warner followed up his miracle year with another strong performance in 2009 before walking away from football voluntarily.
6. Joe Theismann, 1983, Age 34
Back before he caused Sandra Bullock to adopt Michael Oeher, Theismann was a great NFL player. In 1983, he led the Redskins to the Super Bowl and captured the MVP award. He had an outstanding season with a YPA of 8.1 yards and a rating of 97.0. It was by far his finest NFL season, though he did take the 'Skins back to the playoffs in 1984 before Lawrence Taylor snapped him like a twig, ending his career during the 1985 season.
5. Steve Young, 1998, Age 37
Young had a strong season in 1997 at age 36, but his next year was truly vintage. He led the NFL with 36 touchdowns and threw for a league high 278 yards a game. His passer rating was 101.1, a common occurrence for the man with the highest career rating in history. Oh yeah, he RAN for 454 yards as well. Steve Young was so good after age 34 that nearly every season he played could have been on this list. Unfortunately, it was his last hurrah. He retired during the 1999 season due to concerns about head injuries.
4. Rich Gannon, 2002, Age 37
How about a career journeyman quarterback winning an MVP award at 37 years old. Gannon had been to three straight Pro Bowls after arriving in Oakland, but in 2002 he had a dream season in silver and black. He lead the NFL with 4689 yards passing, posted a rating of 97.3 and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl. The dream ended suddenly for Gannon, however as he battled injuries in 2003 and soon after both he and the Raiders were out of football for good.
3. John Elway, 1997, Age 37I could have used either Elway's 1997 or 1998 season, but either way, the result is the same. The Broncos won the Super Bowl. Elway's redemption was complete with a second Super Bowl win. In his next to last season, Elway posted an excellent season with 27 TDs and 11 picks. He followed it up at age 38 with another Super Bowl win and a career high passer rating of 93.0.
2. Y.A. Tittle, 1963, Age 37
Tittle led the Giants to an 11-3 record and won the NFL MVP award at 37. He lead the NFL in in completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdown passes with 36. The stat hadn't even been invented yet, but he posted a career high passer rating of 104.8. 1963 was an incredible cap to a legendary career. It's shame he didn't retire after that season, but a narrow loss to Bears in the playoffs left a bitter taste in his mouth. The next season his numbers plummeted, as he led the Giants to just one win in 12 games. The three time MVP would later be elected to the Hall of Fame.
1. Brett Favre, 2009, Age 40
Favre's 2009 was one of the best seasons by a quarterback of any age. 33 TDs, only 7 picks, and a rating of 107.2 tell only part of the story. He completed 68% of his passes and threw for more than 4,000 yards as he lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship game...where he promptly stomped their hopes and dreams with an ill-advised pick. Say what you want about Favre, his 2009 season was the best Old Guy Performance ever.
Honorable Mentions: Earl Morall, 1968, Sonny Jurgensen, 1970, Brad Johnson 2002, Steve DeBerg and Warren Moon 1990, Trent Green 2002.
Something I forgot to note on the podcast is that I liked the penetration by the defensive tackles. The Colts didn't get much pressure on Orton, but they tackles were disruptive in the run game. It gave the linebackers room to make plays.
It's been 15 years in the making! Jay Bruce just gave me a moment I'll never forget.
2010 CINCINNATI REDS NL CENTRAL CHAMPS
Never. Never. Never take winning for granted, Colts fans. You never know when your next title will come.
The Jags play the Colts tough, the last 5 years of Colts-Jags matchups the margin of victory has been, 2, 4, 7, 2, 22, 3, 7, 27, 7 and 8. 8 of the last 10 matchups have been within a single score margin, with one blowout for each side. Despite this history, it's hard to look at how this Jags team has fared against the pass and not be excited.
Through 3 games the Jags opponents have passed to the tune of 60 for 93 (64.5% comp), 867 yards (9.9 per attempt, 14.5 per completion), 7 TDs with 3 picks and 7 sacks. This all totals to a passer rating against of 108.7, 8.1 ANY/A and a pass defense VOA of 47.8% (4th worst in the league).
3 games isn't a big sample and very subject to strength of schedule. Philly (14th), San Diego (8th) and Denver (4th) are all above average passing offenses by VOA, but with no opponent adjustments, and their game against the Jags factoring into their rating significantly it's still a bit of chicken and egg.
Denver, the Jags week 1 opponent, had it's least productive game by YAR against Jacksonville but was more efficient against Jacksonville than Indy (125 on 36 dropbacks vs 147 on 57 dropbacks) with Denver's best game coming against the Seahawks week 2. Denver's #4 ranking doesn't seem to be wholly result of beating up on the Jags.
On the other hand, week 2 against the Jags was by far the Chargers best passing game to date, with a 30 dropback for 143 DYAR day standing in deep contrast to 57 for 127 and 40 for 56 outings. Likewise for the Eagles, their matchup with Jacksonville was their best day through the air, but Michael Vick settling into his starter role is also a plausible explanation.
So the Jags past schedule of pass Os may very well have been tougher than most, it's impossible to attribute the entirety, or even the majority of the Jags struggles against the pass to their strength of schedule.
The Jags D appears to be pretty bad, but where is it bad? The Jags 7 sacks so far on the season are already half their embarrassing 2009 total of 14. While a pass rush was glaringly absent from the Jags 2009 pass D, it actually seems like the strong point of the 2010 edition. The Jags real issue appears to be in the secondary. The Jags rank dead last in VOA vs #1 WRs and are allowing over 100 yards per game to them. This is especially glaring since you'd be hard pressed to find a "#1 WR" in Seattle, (a sans-Vincent Jackson) SD, and Denver. Against #2 WRs they rank 30th by VOA, with more middling rankings against "Other WRs" (18th), TEs (18th) and RBs (16th).
The Jags struggle against receivers out wide, and the problem seems to be allowing them to get deep as the Jags D has allowed more passes over 20 yards (16), more passes over 40 yards (6) and a higher % of passes going for 1st downs (44.1%) than any other team in the league.
It seems like a very good week for Garçon to show up healthy with his good hands on. There are a number of deep sideline routes with his name on them.