To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Madden franchise, EA Sports is holding an NCAA-style tournament to pick this year's cover athlete. Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck has made it through to the 2nd round, where he'll face Packers LB Clay Matthews. If you want to see Luck on the cover of this year's Madden - or if you believe in the Madden Curse and want to make sure Matthews wins - you can head over to ESPN to vote. And if you'd like more information, including pretty charts and the entire bracket, you can get it here.no comments
Welcome to the first edition of the #CATweetbag.
It's not at all dedicated Alf (let the reader understand), but rather is a chance for me to selfless give back to the Colts community by answering your questions and occasionally making fun of you.
Who wouldn't want to read that?
On to our first question.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
On Tuesday, while people were still debating the merits of signing a high-priced backup for Andrew Luck, the Colts quietly picked up a veteran nose tackle, Aubrayo Franklin (6-1, 317 pounds, turns 33 in August), from the San Diego Chargers. A little over a week ago, U-T San Diego’s Michael Gehlken was reporting that San Diego wanted to re-sign Franklin, calling him a “proven fit in the Chargers defense.”
Franklin, however, nearing the end of his career, opted to play for a winning team and an old coach instead and signed a one-year $890,000 contract with the Colts. “Just the chance to get back with my former defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky,” he said yesterday. “Plus these guys made the playoffs and I feel like they are a contender again.”no comments
Jim Irsay tweets, Matt Hasselbeck and Aubrayo Franklin sign... we'll talk about this and more on tonight's show, live at 8pm ET. At 8:30pm will be joined by B/R's Tyler Brooke to discuss the Colts acquisitions and look at their remaining needs as we head towards April's draft.no comments
All Colts fans will be familiar with Jim Irsay's Twitter adventures over the weekend. Our eccentric owner was regularly tweeting that Indy were working on a trade to bring a wide receiver to the team, but that the deal was taking longer than they had hoped.
We've heard very little on the matter since, and as the Colts moved to signed veterans Matt Hasselbeck and Aubrayo Franklin on Tuesday, it seems that attention may be turned to the Draft as the team search for another weapon for Andrew Luck.
Donnie Avery was allowed to leave, as he took his drops to Kansas City, whilst Austin Collie also wasn't renewed, leaving the team with a gaping hole in the offense.
Fortunately, there are a number of options that are likely to be available for Indianapolis with their first round pick, and two of my personal favourites are California's Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson.no comments
(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
On Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans released three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck when they couldn’t come to an agreement to restructure his contract. Not long after, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that ten different teams, the Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Browns, Bengals, Giants, 49ers, Saints, Buccaneers, and the Colts had already shown interest in signing the fourteen-year veteran. Then, USA Today narrowed down that long list of suitors to just one, Indianapolis, where Hasselbeck was already close to signing his two-year, $8 million contract.
Hasselbeck began his career in 1999 as a sixth round pick and a backup to Brett Favre, and spent the past two seasons in Nashville with the Titans. However, he is best known for his ten seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, where he went 69-62 as a starter and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and one Super Bowl start.no comments
[Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Colts Authority Reader Matt Shedd. I hope you enjoy his approach to analyzing the Colts' free agent signings. Let him know in the comments below!]
I’m a Colts fan, and it’s free agency. That typically means that I should be doing nothing but reading mock drafts, preparing to see the new stock of talent that the Colts will bring in and develop. Of course, that was the pattern of fandom under the Old Regime.
This off-season, however, is filled with excitement—whether that is good for the team or not remains to be seen. Free agency is exciting this year. The Colts are actually going after people. Jim Irsay is throwing money around like he is buying up real estate in a game of Monopoly. The new excitement comes with a new set of questions.
What are the Colts actually getting out of all their money spent? How do you even judge a GM during free agency? How do you actually decide the value of a free agent?
That is the question I set out to understand. You can judge FA acquisitions from a few different viewpoints, such as player talent, market, or raw numbers. The question I wanted to seek, though, was what value each of our new players brought to their last team, and compare that to what we paid them.
While rumors of a mega deal for a mystery wide receiver continure to swirl, and Matt Hasselbeck has kinda almost just about finalized a deal to be Andrew Luck's backup, we're going to take a quick look at some quotes and back stories for recent additions LaRon Landry, Donald Thomas, Gosder Cherilus, and Lawrence Sidbury.
OG Donald Thomas
New England Patriots offensive guard Donald Thomas (64) is interviewed by recording artist Ciara (left) during media day in preparation for Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
In summing up his reasoning for coming to Indianapolis, Donald Thomas said, "I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that.” He's also here because he hasn't been a full-time starter since his second year in the league. It's time for a new opportunity.
The Patriots offensive line is very good, good enough to keep a solid player waiting in the wings behind Pro Bowl-caliber starters. Thomas was one of their top backups, and he started seven games last season, including…that spectactularly awful Colts-Patriots contest.
According to ESPN’s Football Journey feature on him from last year, Thomas was a walk-on at Connecticut who began playing football after his freshman year because he was bored. With some encouragement from UConn football players, he tried out as a sophomore. After working his way up from redshirt to special teams to a backup with a few starts under his belt, Thomas was invited to return as a fifth year senior with a scholarship.no comments
Our look at the Colts' free-agent acquisitions continues here with a breakdown of LaRon Landry - signed to a 4 year, $24m deal last week, subsequent to the signings of the first day. Along with Greg Toler and Darius Butler, Landry is tasked with providing solidity on the back end and appropriate accompaniment for Antoine Bethea - something we haven't seen for years.
Safety play is something I've always enjoyed watching and breaking down - particularly those safeties with rare athletic skills and the ability to knock ball carriers into next week. Landry runs a 4.3 40 while standing at 6'0, 220lb - so he definitely qualifies. As I elaborated when assessing Toler, my main issue with the Colts' acquisitions and depth in the defensive backfield is a seeming focus on the run game - all of our starters are in my mind above average in stopping the run, though questionable as a unit when considering pass coverage. Landry is no exception, though a more thorough look at Landry's 2012 season helped alleviate my concerns slightly.
I'll dive right into the analysis, as i've spent a fair bit of time watching Landry and choosing appropriate coverage plays to highlight certain aspects of his game in pass defense. The first play I've chosen comes from the Redskins vs. Colts game of 2010 - Aaron Francisco, a game sealing interception, etc etc. The play in question comes from the 4th quarter and the last Colts possession - they're trying to burn both the clock and the remaining Washington timeouts. It's a 2nd and 10, with the first play in the series an incomplete pass - thus, the following is very important in the context of the game.
I've highlighted Dallas Clark's route on the play, along with the position of Landry at the snap. Upon taking the snap, Peyton will execute a play fake to Joseph Addai, clearing out the middle of the field for a man-on-man matchup between Clark and Landry, the former on a crossing route aiming for the marker.no comments
One of the keys to the offseason for the Colts was to improve the offensive line. Whilst the signing of Lions right tackle Gosder Cherilus provides an upgrade over Winston Justice, the interior of the line provided the most concern.
And whilst the media regularly linked the team with moves for Buffalo Bills guard Andy Levitre and Louis Vasquez of the Chargers, General Manager Ryan Grigson chose not to pursue the bigger names on the market and instead moved for New England Patriots guard Donald Thomas.
A 27-year old lineman formerly of the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions, Thomas started just 7 games for the Patriots in 2012, mostly serving as a backup to Logan Mankins. However, Thomas impressed during his limited playing time, and Pro Football Focus graded Thomas at +10.2 for the 2012 season, ranking him as the 4th best interior lineman available in free agency – above Vasquez.
The contract seems friendly too – 4 years at $14m is probably one of the more frugal moves the Colts made this week, particularly for someone who played well at both left and right guard.
From watching the footage of Patriots games, Thomas is a good pass protector, but also has the ability to drive linemen back to open up running lanes. It's these abilities that make him incredibly useful at both guard positions.
The first two plays are from the game against the Colts, with Thomas usually up against Fili Moala. The first play shown looks at his run blocking, and the particular play featured shows him at left guard.