Josh Boeke brings us his weekly piece, this week, something a little more light-hearted. Hopefully you can all breathe easier now after enduring the Colts' meltdown and MNF craziness. -KJR
This is a play by play account of my descent into madness watching the second half of the Jacksonville-Indianapolis game. Enjoy.
Kyle Rodriguez takes a look at the history of Bill Polian's drafting for the Colts, starting with 1998.
Stew Blake is unavailable for this week's "The Stew," so I'm writing it in place of him this week. In light of that, the weekly roundup will be pushed back until Tuesday. For the record however, my pick is Detroit over Chicago, 27-20.
Well, that was a disappointment, through and through.
Once again, the Colts fade down the stretch, and once again, they allow their opponent to come back and win the game.
Only this time, the Colts were facing the Kansas City Chiefs, a team who has rivaled the Colts in early ineptitude. This time, the Colts had a 17 point lead, TWICE! This time, the offense was largely effective, unlike the previous four games. There was no Ben Roethlisberger or LeGarrette Blount to kill the Colts, there was only Matt Cassel and Jackie Battle, a 4th string running back.
But, the Colts found a way to blow it. And that's quietly becoming a theme to this season. Whether that's a coaching thing, an attitude thing, or just dumb luck, the Colts cannot close out games.
But, I'm done rambling. On to the feast!
The Main Ingredients:
Curtis Painter: This is the guy that we need under center for the rest of the year, not Kerry Collins, and definitely not Dan "I don't know where the back of the endzone is" Orlovsky. Painter played a great game, by 2011's standards, throwing for 277 yards on 15-27, with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. His numbers would have been better, but a few drops by Dallas Clark in the second half and a missed holding call on the final offensive play held him back. This was the best quarterback play we've seen all season, and it was more than well enough to win. Painter was looking confident, hitting his throws, and generally making the right reads. He took care of the ball and was efficient, more than what I ever expected from him. I'm ecstatic to get that kind of play from him. If the Colts get that for the previous four games, they're 3-2 right now.
The Offensive Line:The offensive line, cast-offs and all, played tremendously yesterday. With Jeff Linkenbach at left tackle, and newcomer Quinn Ojinnaka holding down the right side, Curtis Painter escaped the game unscathed. That's right, after giving up 10 sacks over the previous four games, the Colts ended Sunday's game without allowing one. This was a huge reason why Painter was able to play as well as he did. While the run blocking was "meh" once again (26 rushes for 79 yards from the running backs), the pass protection was wonderful all game.
Pierre Garcon: Once again, Garcon came to play. This week, Garcon had five catches for 125 yards, with another pair of touchdowns. He didn't have any killer drops this week, showing good hands and great awareness after the catch. Him and Painter have a noticeable chemistry, and he's been the best receiver since Painter came in.
Dwight Freeney: Even while drawing double teams all day, even a triple team at one point, Freeney managed to accrue four tackles and 1.5 sacks on the day. His presence drew the attention of Kansas City on every passing play, and should have opened up more opportunities for other rushers.
Reggie Wayne: Wayne had a very good first half, with four catches for 77 yards. But he disappeared during the second half, when the Colts needed him most. His connection with Painter is only rivaled by Pierre Garcon's, but Wayne couldn't get anything in the second half (although Painter did miss him a few times).
Donald Brown: We have a Donald Brown sighting! Brown came in the game after Joseph Addai's hamstring injury, and played decently, getting 38 yards on just eight carries. Of course, that was helped by a 16 yard scamper, but even so, Brown played better than rookie Delone Carter. Brown's blocking was solid as well.
Robert Mathis: Mathis managed to combine with Freeney for a sack, and got four tackles, but we should have seen more from him with Freeney getting so much attention.
Pat Angerer: Once again got double-digit tackles with 15, but didn't play as well as the previous two weeks overall, especially in the third quarter when the Colts got gashed by the run.
The Spoiled Goods:
Jim Caldwell: Once again he's on this list, as the Colts once again fail to adjust in the second half. The Colts were outscored 14-0 in the second half, and have now been outscored 57-24 in the last four games, all lost by a touchdown or less (only TB game was more than four points). His decision to punt in the fourth quarter (before an offsides call gave him a second chance) was similar to last week's debacle. The defense has looked like it needed adjustments in both of the last two games, and Caldwell is failing to step in and make the call when Coyer doesn't. Caldwell's in-game skills are just abhorrent.
Larry Coyer: Jacob Lacey shouldn't be on Pro Bowl WR Dwayne Bowe. Ever. Why Coyer refuses to put our best corner (Jerraud Powers) on the best receiver is beyond me. It's simply baffling. And why in the world is Chris Rucker in the game on the game-winning touchdown pass? What happened to Kevin Thomas and Terrence Johnson? Both of them looked better in the preseason, but Thomas has been MIA all season, for reasons unknown to me. Coyer needs to make some adjustments, call some blitzes, anything! If anyone needs to go on this coaching staff (and they do), it's Coyer.
The Secondary: They got tore up. Even Antoine Bethea, normally sure tackler, got his ankles broken on Bowe's 41-yard TD. Jacob Lacey, inexplicably on Bowe, got wrecked. The injury to Jerraud Powers just limits the already thin stable of CBs, and the waiving of Justin Tryon is looking more and more ridiculous. This secondary needs to be the first thing to address in the offseason, because it is flat-out awful.
Run Defense: With Jackie Battle looking eerily like LeGarrette Blount of last week, the loss of Foster and Nevis really showed this week, especially in that horrendous third quarter. The LB's couldn't get to holes because the linemen were blasting through the first and second levels.
Officials: The crew just couldn't seem to get anything right, whether it was missing on the obvious hold on Anthony Gonzalez, or just simply looking inept all game with ridiculously long discussions about calls that didn't affect the game. I'm not blaming the officials (that goes to the defense), it just added to an already depressing game.
The Final Product
Colts 24- Chiefs 28
The Colts blew another late lead, and there is a lot of changes that need to be made, Manning or no Manning.
Indianapolis feed: Indianapolis, IN: WNDY My23 Springfield, IL: WCFN My49 Evansville, IN: WEHT 25 (ABC) South Bend, IN: WBND 57 (ABC) Terre Haute, IN: WTHI 10 (CBS) Louisville, KY: WMYO My58 Cincinnati feed: Cincinnati, OH: WKRC 12 (CBS) Columbus, OH: WSYX ABC 6 Louisville, KY: WMYO My58 Dayton, OH: WKEF 22 (ABC) Lima, OH: WOHL (CBS) NFLN re-air: Fri 4:00 AM ETRadio: Colts: Sirius XM Radio 134, 1070 AM The Fan. Bengals: Sirius XM Radio 88, ESPN 1530. The game, being the final one, will be largely meaningless, as starters are often very limited, if not completely held out of the final game. However, a team cannot be successful without depth, so for Colts fans, there will be several things to look for. First, how will Kerry Collins do? Collins signed a large contract last week in order to be the Colts' primary backup to Peyton Manning, but has had a very limited amount of time to learn the Colts' playbook and become acclimated with the system, not to mention develop a rapport with his receivers. He figures to get a decent amount of playing time tonight, so pay attention to how the Colts' offense runs with him at the helm. It must be taken into account who he plays with, as many of the starters will likely be held out, but even so, watch Collins to gauge his comfort level with the offense. Second, can Curtis Painter prove that last week's second quarter wasn't a fluke? Painter has taken a lot of heat this preseason, and rightfully so. He was downright awful in the first two games. In the third game, Painter started slow, hurt by early pressure, dropped passes, and a few errant passes. In the second quarter however, Painter looked very good, keying in on Reggie Wayne for most of the key throws, but also targeting Pierre Garcon and third WR Chris Brooks on the two touchdown drives. While Painter actually looked like an NFL quarterback last Friday, especially in the two-minute offense, he must prove that it was not a fluke. I'd love to be encouraged by the game (and I was), but Painter needs to follow it up with another strong performance in order to keep his roster spot. He doesn't need two touchdown passes or a large amount of yards. He just needs to be able to move down the field, and be semi-accurate with his throws. Third, can Jerry Hughes get a sack? While Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will likely miss the majority of the game, Hughes should once again play for large portions of the game. Personally, I think it would be ludicrous to cut him at this point in his career, but he really needs to show some improvement. Playing well against the Bengals would certainly help his case. Hughes will likely be playing against lower-tier guys, and should be looking to get a sack, or at least consistent pressure. Fourth, who will win the battle of the fourth running back? Javarris James, Darren Evans, and Chad Spann will all be trying to make the final cuts, and I seriously doubt that the Colts will keep more than four backs. So, the most likely scenario is that only one of the aforementioned three will be kept, with one of the other two possibly being practice squad material. Javarris James hasn't been particularly good so far in the preseason, but has the advantage of playing last year for the Colts, and showing a nose for the end zone. Darren Evans has run very well, with a tough running style that is often missing from the Colts. Chad Spann hasn't had much luck running the ball, but has the ability to return kicks/punts. In my opinion, Evans would be the best bet for the Colts, but James will probably be the one to stay. Spann's duties as return man look like they've been passed to David Gilreath and Joe Lefeged, and the hand-offs he's taken haven't warranted a roster spot. In the coming year, James' goal line carries will likely go to rookie standout Delone Carter, taking James' niche away from him. Because Evans has looked good so far, and James' is kind of being replaced, I think Evans should stay. But, the Colts like guys who know their system well, so who knows what will happen. Fifth, and finally, which unknown will step up and earn a roster spot? The Colts always have relatively unknown players step up and perform well during the season for them. In 2009, it was Blair White. But, in order to get there, the players need to step up and show that they're worthy of a roster spot, or at least a spot on the practice squad. This game against the Bengals is their last chance to show what they're worth. White did it last year, his seven catches for 132 yards in the final game earning him a spot on the practice squad. Players like Adrian Moten, Joe Lefeged, Chris Brooks, and David Gilreath have already caught the eyes of fans and coaches, will they continue to impress, or will somebody else step it up in their last chance to prove something?
- The Colts' secondary was getting picked apart by Kyle Orton, who finished with over 400 yards passing on the day. This soft zone getting picked apart by quick, short passes is exactly what I was talking about earlier this week. 10 yard comeback routes really were killing the CB's on the outside, who were giving a big enough cushion to get beat there every time. However, the defense really stiffened up in the redzone allowing only one touchdown and two field goals on a day where the offense had over 500 total yards.
- Speaking of redzone defense, the Colts had a great goal line stand midway through the second quarter. Denver had four tries from the one-and-a-half yard line, but were stopped on three run plays and a single fade route. Eric Foster and Antonio Johnson got great pushes on each of the running plays, and Gary Brackett and Philip Wheeler each made solid tackles on the ball carrier.
- The offensive line looked different with Jeff Linkenbach starting in Charlie Johnson's place. Link gave up a few pressures, but largely did a solid job at left tackle. The line did a good job of pass blocking all day, but the run blocking was horrendous, and only totaled 40 yards at the end of the game. I watched Pollak specifically, who was ok in the run game, but not near as good as he was in Week Two. In pass blocking, he was better than Diem or Richard (still terrible) were, but this was the first week where I noticed him get beat on the inside a couple of times. Still, he was solid for the better part of the game. Jeff Saturday was awful run blocking this game, as he was for most of the season.
- After being targeted a few times early, Wayne and Clark were fairly quiet for most of the game. Denver put a lot of attention on those two, which is partly why others could have big games.
- If we're talking about wideouts with big games, Austin Collie had his coming out party in Week Three, with 12 receptions for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was all over the field, and showed great vision after the catch as well. It's nice to see this kind of talent again, I only pray it comes back this season without any repercussions.
- Blair White also had a very good game, with Manning showing a lot of confidence in the young receiver. He showed himself to be a good possession receiver, running good routes and showing reliable hands. His savvy move on Cox for his touchdown was a veteran move. He does lack the physical gifts other receivers have, and doesn't use his body well to shield defenders, but he's solid depth at the fifth receiver position. I hope he stays on the roster this season.
- The DT tandem of Daniel Muir and Fili Moala continues to surprise me, passing the eye test as the Colts' best pair in the middle. Mookie looks like he's getting pushed back every play, until they got into that goal line stand mode.
- Kelvin Hayden and Jacob Lacey both had good games making tackles, and Lacey with his interception. Jerraud Powers was struggling for the majority of the game, missing a few tackles and getting beat on short routes, as well as getting beat deep on the Broncos' only TD (to be fair, Bullitt was sucked up and didn't give Powers help over the top). But, Powers really picked up his game in the fourth quarter, and was a key part of the Colts limiting the Broncos in the final minutes.
- Stunts on the defensive line never work. Never. I hate when they're called.
- Even with Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon hurt, Manning was brilliant, orchestrating the offense to perfection when they needed points.
- Addai really does thrive on getting positive yards after contact. He just knows how to move and fall forward. I'm very glad we resigned him.
- Scary moment: When Antoine Bethea landed on his head early in the game trying to make a play, and took a minute to get up. Head/Neck injuries are always scary, but when it's a key guy like Bethea, it just adds to the moment.
- Best play of the game: Manning's perfect throw to Wayne down the left sideline for a 31 yard gain. Peyton threw the ball right behind Champ Bailey's head, right into Wayne's arms. Wayne played it perfectly too, not reaching up for it until it was right there. Bailey never even knew it was coming, and Manning zipped it right behind his ear.
- Interesting moment: I watched Daniel Muir leap-frog his blocker on a PAT attempt by the Broncos. He was nowhere near blocking the kick, but it was quite amusing to see him push the linemen down and swing his leg up and over him.
But why take that chance, especially with the injury history on this defense? Increase the amount of bump and run coverage on the outside, and you just might lighten the load on Peyton Manning's shoulders.
You just might turn into a championship-worthy defense.
"I'm not real pleased with a lot of the things that went on out there. We had a bunch of penalties, which is not like us. We've got a lot of work to do."On rookie running back Delone Carter:
"I thought he ran well when he was in there. He had a couple of nice runs, kept his legs moving. He did some nice things."On penalties:
"There were also many things that we didn't do right. We went from not having any offensive penalties last week [in a 33-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams] to eight penalties [Friday night]."Check out the player reviews by Justin Knox for more detailed analysis: Castonzo and Hughes, player review.
- The Offensive Line
- The Defensive Line
- Quarterback play
After a demoralizing game versus the Texans in Week 1, the Colts faced a Giants team coming off of a 31-18 win over the Carolina Panthers. While the game was against the eventual 2-14 Panthers, Giants fans were encouraged by the win, and the improvements (or so it seemed) in the defense, which only allowed one touchdown in the win versus the Panthers.
That improvement didn't intimidate the Colts however, who came into the game looking like a completely different team. Apparently the pep talk that Manning had led during the end of the Texans game worked, because everybody on the Colts came out with a vengeance, and played much better than during Week One.
The marked improvement showed up right away in the first drive, as Manning picked apart the defense with a surgeon like precision. Focusing on the middle of the field, Manning found Garcon, Collie, and Wayne twice on the drive. At one point, Joseph Addai had four straight touches, foreshadowing a night where he would shine in rushing and catching the ball out of the backfield. Donald Brown also had a couple big runs, ending with a seven yard touchdown run behind an outstanding block by rookie tight end Brody Eldridge.
On defense on the next series, the Colts held them to a three and out, with a two yard reverse by Mario Manningham (LB's over pursued, but Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea played it perfectly), a one yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw (Fili Moala with a great job of holding his position and shedding the blocker), and an incomplete pass (Mathis blew by the right tackle). The defense seemed to really take offense at their performance during the previous week, flying around with a renewed passion.
The next three series (one by Giants and two by Colts) were all three and outs, but the Giants seemed unable to move the ball, whereas the Colts just seemed to get unlucky.
Then the Giants finally began to move the ball, aided by a deep pass interference call on Kelvin Hayden (For the record, Hayden had great coverage on the play, and just got unlucky). But then, the drive stalled with two great plays on running plays by the linebackers and a quarterback pressure by Freeney that caused an incompletion.
That series was the first series that I noticed that Kavell Conner was playing in the place of Clint Session. I went back and realized that Conner had started that evening due to Session's hamstring issues. Interesting, I don't think I noticed at the time.
After the defensive stop, the Colts received the ball and began to let the running backs shine. Starting with Addai, and ending with Brown, the Colts marched from their own two yard line to midfield on 6 running plays and one quick pass to Dallas Clark. After setting up the run with several successful draw plays, Manning faked a draw to Donald Brown, fooling the safety for enough time for Dallas Clark to get behind him and cornerback, resulting in a 50 yard touchdown pass.
The score was now 14-0 in the Colts favor, and the Giants needed some big plays. On first down from the 20, Eli Manning faked the hand off and threw a bomb to Steve Smith. The problem was that Powers and Bethea were both on Smith, and the throw was slightly under thrown by Manning. After a deflection by Bethea, Powers picked off the deep pass, and returned it 30 yards. The return would be overturned, but the interception stood. Colts ball!
That turnover led to a Vinatieri field goal, the drive once again consisting of Addai and Brown showing their talents. 17-0 Colts
On the next series, there was only four plays before Mathis caused a fumble on a sack around the edge. The Colts got the ball on the Giants 45 with 1:07 left before the half. General Manning led a quick drive, ending with a touchdown pass to Austin Collie in the left flat, making It 24-0.
The Giants would score a touchdown after coming out of the locker room, and then get a quick defensive stop. But their hope was finally dashed when, with 6:27 left in the third quarter, Freeney forced another fumble from Eli Manning, and Fili Moala recovered it in the endzone, giving the Colts a 31-7 lead. Both teams would score another touchdown before the night was over, but the game was over after this play.
What I noticed:
- The defensive tackle rotation of Fili Moala, Daniel Muir, Mookie Johnson, and Mitch King played well. Daniel Muir and Fili Moala in particular played extremely well. In fact, for the second straight week, I wasn't particularly impressed by Mookie. In fact, from those two games, I'd have to say Muir was better than Johnson playing the one tech. Mookie got pushed backwards consistently, while Muir seemed to be holding his ground or moving forwards.
- The biggest difference though, from Week One, was the linebacker play, particularly from the ROLB and MLB spot. Wheeler still seemed to be getting lost, and wasn't filling holes very well. However, Brackett was playing much better than in Week One, and the replacement of Session by Conner didn't seem to hurt the LB core at all. In fact, Conner played much better than Session had the week before, as Session was the king of over pursuit. Conner on the other hand was solid in both coverage and fundamentals of run support.
- This really was a game in which the running backs could show their stuff. Joseph Addai in particular was playing tremendously. He showed power, speed, agility, and incredible vision running the ball, and was his normal terrific self in catching out of the backfield. I particularly noticed his power, as he was hitting people hard, at one point running over Kenny Phillips and causing him to sit out for a couple plays. Donald Brown also played well, as he could hit the holes hard and gain good yards, even after contact. The Colts also lined him up as a receiver at one point, but the ball went to Collie.
- I've noticed that Kelvin Hayden is a better corner than people have been giving him credit for. In the first two games, his side was thrown to very rarely, and I noticed Powers' and Tryon's assignments getting receptions far more than Hayden's. Hayden did give up a long TD pass in garbage time, but I can't fault him too much for that. He also gave up a deep DPI, but his coverage on the play was actually fantastic, his arm hooked on the back of the receiver, but he could have made the play regardless.
- The defensive ends were marvelous. Every time Peyton's little brother stepped back to pass he felt pressure.
- Impact on the season: It would show how well the Colts defense really could play. While the offense was facing a defense that was playing small intentionally, the defense was playing a normal offense that just couldn't do anything against the Colts defense. They were forcing turnovers, stopping the run, the whole nine yards.
- Interesting point in the game, Part A: At one point, Brandon Jacobs tried to throw his helmet against the bench, but it slipped and flew into the stands. This resulted in a 15 minute affair in which security tried to retrieve the helmet from a fan who refused to let it go. How the helmet could "slip" and go into the stands as opposed to the bench is beyond me.
- Interesting point in the game, Part B: As Jacob Lacey got beat deep by Mario Manningham for the Giants first touchdown, Chris "I have no idea what I'm talking about" Collinsworth proclaimed his admiration that Eli could get the pass to Manningham "over the best man-to-man cover guy for the Colts." Heh. That was funny.
Monday's practice at Anderson University consisted of two practices: one at 8:30 AM and one at 3:30 PM. The afternoon practice is just special teams, and is currently underway.
From the Morning practice came some interesting notes, including injury updates for several players:
- Ernie Sims had an appendectomy on Sunday, after standing out on Saturday during the Blue and White scrimmage. According to Jim Caldwell, Sims has a two-week timetable.
- Jamaal Anderson injured his hamstring during practice and needed to have it wrapped. The extent of the injury is not known as of now.
- Jamey Richards and Joe Horn also left practice with undisclosed injuries today.
- Jeff Saturday got some limited work in during Monday's practice. Tom James reports that the Colts are working him back slowly.
- The players who sat out Monday's practice included: Peyton Manning (PUP), Blair White (PUP), Brody Eldridge, James Williams, Jamie Thomas, Chris Rucker, Kole Heckendorf, Rob Myers (UPDATE: Myers was waived this afternoon), and Dwight Freeney
- Kavell Conner returned to practice after dislocating his pinkie on Friday. Conner said he can still tackle, which is a good thing.
- TCU undrafted rookie C Jake Kirkpatrick has been moving up the ranks on the depth chart, taking snaps with the second team during Monday's practice.
- Joe Reitz and Jeff Linkenbach have been working with the first team offensive line, with Link at LT and Reitz at LG.
- According to Nick Pease, Jeff Saturday lined up at WR and ran a quick slant, drawing a roar from the crowd in Anderson. Jeff Saturday is hilarious. If you haven't seen this yet, watch it now.
- Before tweaking his hammy, Jamaal Anderson was working with the first team defensive line in Freeney's place. Jerry Hughes was also playing well, according to Pease.
- Phil B reported that Anthony Castonzo needs to step it up in order to start at the beginning of the season. Benjamin Ijalana was out playing him in at least one drill. I hope Castonzo can progress quickly, because the Colts need him to start at LT. While I like Link, I would love for him to supplant Ryan Diem.
- Who Phil B sees starting at OL on September 11: Saturday, Diem, Pollak. He's not sure on the LT and LG.
- See Pease's and Phil B's Twitter accounts for more details.
“Right now I think it’s good and healthy and spirited competition. We have a good sense of what Jerraud (Powers) can do. He’s been a very fine player for us, and (Jacob) Lacey as well. Then there’s some guys like Kevin Thomas that we don’t know much about because he was with us of all about half of an individual period before he was hurt last year, but today he looked like he was moving around and feeling good. Justin Tryon obviously played for us last year so we know a little bit about him. He’s a good cover-man and he’s working on some of the things that he’s maybe not so good at. We have a good balance of guys, a good nucleus, and then Chris Rucker who’s down, but hopefully he’ll be able to come back tomorrow and get after it a little bit.”On the second year linebackers:
“Any time you have good veteran depth, guys that have games under their belt, it makes a big difference because they understand speed of the competition. It makes you feel a lot better because you know when they’re going in they aren’t going to make a lot of young mistakes due to inexperience, so you feel good about that.” “They are also the right kind of people (Kavell Connor and Pat Angerer.) They run hard. They tackle. They’re good leaders and both the guys are guys that don’t say a word, they just practice and play. So, they’re fun to be around. They are real professionals. That’s the word I could use and that I could use on a number of cases out there on our team, but those two guys are certainly two guys who understand and get it and have been functioning well thus far.”On Jerry Hughes:
"When you look at him purely from what he’s done on the practice field, we think he’s made quite a bit of improvement. But the proof is in the pudding as well. We have to be able to see what happens in the course of a ball game."Dan Orlovsky on QB competition:
“My biggest thing is to go out learn and compete. I don’t know the exact situation. Obviously, Curtis is the back-up right now, that’s my assumption, but I am just going to go out and compete. I have been in Curtis’ shoes before, so I know what it is like. I am just going to go out there and compete and go play and play well and make it hard on the coaches.”Overall, I like to see the good things coming out of camp on the defensive line. There has been a good amount of praise on Hughes, Drake Nevis, and Tommie Harris, three guys who the Colts need to play well in 2011. The offensive line is still a concern, as Ijalana and Costanzo are still practicing with the second team. Still, I have confidence that they'll be in good shape by about three or four games into the season. But I'd like to see the line be solidified by the opener at Houston. I'm just ready for an actual game of football. Saturday can't come quick enough. [UPDATE] Nick Pease posted a compilation of his observations from being at Monday's practice here.
- Jamie Richards was terrible. That was the first thing that jumped out at me. No wonder he would lose his job later in the season. He was by far the worst linemen on the day, constantly allowing pressure, having a false start, and causing the Colts to waste a timeout (due to not understanding a Manning audible).
- After Richards, I'd have to say that Johnson was the second worst linemen on the day, with Ryan Diem being a close third. Both tackles were abused all day by the defensive ends, causing Manning to get hit far more than I'm comfortable with (of course, I'm uncomfortable with one time). Pollak and Saturday were respectable, on the whole.
- It was astounding how bad the running game was on the left side. Johnson and Richard were awful in run blocking, and the backs never had room to run on the left. On the right however, Pollak and Diem did a fairly good job of giving Addai lanes to run in.
- Early in the game, it wasn't our much maligned defensive tackles who were costing us in the run game. It was our linebackers. Late in the second half, everybody was playing bad, but before that the tackles were playing fairly decent. Moala and Muir were the most common pairing, getting good push on the line and making some good plays. The linebackers however were over pursuing and getting lost, so even if the linemen held their own, the backs were getting 4-6 yards a pop. Philip Wheeler and Clint Session were the main culprits.
- This game really was a foreshadowing of Austin Collie. He was the Colts best receiver on the day, and Peyton showed a lot of trust in him. At the same time, he showed a lot of trust in Garcon by continuing to go to him.
- Overall take: I think our defensive tackles for this year will be a huge upgrade from last year, and I think their quality (at least in this game) was downplayed a lot last year because the defense was getting gashed. However, I'd put more fault in the linebackers for this game than in the DL. After watching this game, I'm interested to see how the rest of the season turned out.
- Gonzo and Collie both had very good games. If both of them can stay healthy this season, Manning is going to have a heyday.
- Jamie Richards is terrible, and if he ever starts again, I will kill something. I don't know what, but something will cease to live. Mike Pollak actually played pretty well. I expected to see a lot of bad things coming from his side of the line, since I knew coming into the film that there was a huge OL fail. Johnson was bad. I'll say it again, he's a below average tackle, and I'm glad the Colts didn't shell out 10.5 mil over 3 years.
- Biggest effect on season: Bob Sanders injured in the first quarter. Although the team would be optimistic in his return, he eventually would be placed on injured reserve, wasting another year of his contract.
- Interesting point in the game: Late in the fourth quarter, the Colts were driving into Houston territory (after the game was far out of reach). Reggie Wayne caught a short out for a first down, and was run out of bounds by safety Bernard Pollard. After the two were both out of bounds, the microphones picked up Pollard clearly saying "Get your@*$ out of bounds!" Reggie responded with a just as clear "F#$% you motha#$%^@*!" The two then had a short jawing match on the sidelines. I hate Bernard Pollard. So glad we didn't sign him, like many suggested.
Training Camp battles, along with pre-season games, are what defines the off-season in terms of roster building once the draft and free agent acquisitions are complete. They are essentially just a competition to win a starting position, or even a depth position, in order to get on the roster. With the horrendous lockout at end, the drafted rookies, UDFA and recently acquired FAs will be feeling the toll. The lack of OTAs, film watching, and essentially, practicing with the rest the team, has given the newly acquired players less of a chance to make the roster compared to the veteran players who already know the system. This will prove to be true when pre-season ends and the roster is made. However, that doesn't mean a veteran can't suddenly decline or a rookie shows extreme promise, earning or losing him a roster spot. These are some of the interesting camp battles I'm looking foward to...
Quarter Back (Second String) Curtis Painter vs Dan Orlovsky vs Nate Davis
Ah yes, the ever so important clipholder. The Colts typically only carry 2 QBs, so most likely, only one of these three players will make the roster. I think this is just a case of knowing the system, which Painter does. Painter is already playing with the first team in practice, and the general belief is that the Colts will draft Manning's replacement in next years draft anyways. Might as well keep Painter (to the dismay of Colts Fans everywhere) for one last year; mainly because he knows too much about the offense. Depth Chart: Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter
Running Back: (Fourth String) Chad Spann vs Dominic Rhodes vs Devin Moore vs Javarris James
Running back is one of the plug-and-play positions of the NFL. This is a battle where pure talent, and the ability to catch the coaches eye will help you win. However, Joseph Addai starting is set in stone. He has been solid with a non-existing line and should only improve with all the additions made this off-season. Donald Brown should be feeling the pressure right now because of the addition of Delone Carter and Chad Spann, and veteran Dominic Rhodes still around. However, I believe that the FO is too proud, or stubborn to put Brown third on the depth chart, and since he showed promise on the last few games when the offensive line actually opened holes for him, he will keep the second spot. Delone Carter will also win the third spot, which is usually our Goal-Line/Short Yardage spot, because he fits it well, and due to the drafting of Carter, Javarris James (who was our goal-line back last year), will be released. Dominic Rhodes and Chad Spann are both solid returners, but unlike Devin Moore, they offer something in the running game, which is why Moore will be released. Outside of Joeseph Addai, the Colts have no third down back. Donald Brown can't pass protect, Carter can't catch, and Chad Spann has no experience. Rhodes is a proven, reliable third round back but will be released due to his age, in order to get younger talent on the team. However, I wouldn't be too surprised to see Rhodes resign with the team after someone gets injured. Carrying a 5th runningback is also an option, especially when your first 4 are so injury prone (Addai/Brown/Carter all have injury histories, not sure about Spann). Depth Chart: Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Chad Spann
Wide Reciever: (Starter) Anthony Gonzalez vs Pierre Garcon
This battle is one I'm interested in following. Gonzalez had a good rookie and sophomore season, but got hurt on a freak accident on the first game on his third season. I'm sure you know the rest, where Pierre Garcon steps up, quits his job as a waiter and becomes a solid #2 option for Peyton. However, Anthony Gonzalez never got a chance to reclaim his old position because he was injured, again. On the first game, again. But contrary to popular belief, he isn't injury prone. All three injuries he suffered were freak accidents, and none of them occurred on the same body part which means they aren't reoccurring injuries. Gonzo will most likely have a healthy 2012 season, but is healthy enough to claim a starting position? I don't think so, especially because the Colts FO is so high on Garcon. In fact they stated it was their #1 priority next off season, next to Mathis and Wayne. Sorry Gonzo, maybe next time. Depth Chart: Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, Blair White
Defensive End: (Third String) Jamaal Anderson vs Eric Foster vs John Chick
Jamaal Anderson was the 8th overall pick in the 2006 draft, and has essentially busted as a pass rusher but he is one of the top run-stuffers at DE (#6 to be exact, according to PFF). However, Eric Foster is also a good run stuffing DE, but unlike Anderson, Foster is a good pass-rusher. Most likely, Anderson won't make the final roster since Foster has an overall better skill set. John Chick is a player you should pay close attention to this off-season though. He was the DPOTY for the CFL and has been marinating in our practice squad for what seems like decades. I doubt Chick will make the final roster because he isn't good at stuffing the run, which is what you will need to when spotting Freeney/Mathis during rushing downs. Depth Chart: Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Jerry Hughes, Eric Foster
Defensive Tackle: (Second String) Drake Nevis vs Tommie Harris
Fili Moala had a good sophomore jump and should develop even further this season. Why ruin it by taking away his starting position? Moala will most likely start as our 3-tech while Harris and Nevis battle for the back up position. However, since Harris was signed to an one year deal, expect him to play the second string as Nevis develops and adjusts to NFL game speed. I don't see why the Colts would sign someone like Harris to play as a third string player. Also, Antonio Johnson will start our 1-tech position, simply because there is nobody else. Depth Chart: Antonio Johnson, Free Agent (1 tech), Fili Moala, Tommie Harris, Drake Nevis
Strong Linebacker: (starter) Pat Angerer vs Kavell Conner vs Tyjuan Hagler
Pat Angerer is most suited playing as the MIKE, a position which our defensive captain, Gary Brackett currently occupies. He has also shown flashes while playing the WILL position as well. Since MIKE and WILL are the most important positions in a Tampa-2 scheme (see Chicago, Lance Briggs at WILL and Brian Urlacher at MIKE), I think Angerer will fight for WILL instead of SAM. That leaves Connor and Hagler. The fact that Hagler, although a solid player, hasn't been re-signed yet, means that Connor, who made the All-Rookie team last year, will start at SAM. Depth Chart: Kavell Connor, Hagler (or any other free agent)
Weak Linebacker: (Starter) Pat Angerer vs Ernie Sims
This will also be an interesting battle to follow. However I expect Sims to win the battle, and for Pat Angerer to back up all three linebacking positions. The main reason why is because, how better to replace Clint Session by replacing him with a player who has the EXACT same skill set as him? This includes the positives like hard hitting as well as the negatives such as taking bad angles. He excelled in Detroit's Tampa-2 scheme his first three seasons, racking up over 100 tackles in each. However, it went downhill from there as he went through two system changes and seemingly 'regressed' throughout each of them. He should flourish under the same Tampa-2 scheme now though, and should be a great addition to this defense. Depth Chart: Ernie Sims, Phillip Wheeler
Corner Back: (Starting, Nickle) Jacob Lacey vs Justin Tryon vs Kevin Thomas
First, Kevin Thomas is completely unproven and injury prone. With that in mind, I think using him as the nickle or even the dimeback would be more effective. Jacob Lacey was throughily abused when matched up against second tier wide outs (Braylon Edwards) while Justin Tryon held his own against one of the premiere ones in Santonio Holmes. Although last season may have been a fluke, I think Tryon is best suited for the #2 corner spot. Since Lacey has been reported playing with the first team, I don't think he will fall to the dime package, which means Kevin Thomas will play the dime with Chris Rucker playing the dollar. I would prefer the Colts trading or signing a veteran corner, or even resigning Kelvin Hayden to a less lucrative deal (I would love Asante Samuel but he's out of the Colts' budget). Depth Chart: Jerraud Powers, Justin Tryon, Jacob Lacey, Kevin Thomas, Chris Rucker
Safeties: (Second String) Joe Lefeged vs Mike Newton
We have absolutely no depth behind our safeties, and while I don't expect the Colts to sign someone like Donte Whitner (it'd be foolish to pay someone with starter talent, starter money to be a backup), I can't be content with having an two UDFAs as the primary backups to one of the most important positions on our defensive scheme. I fully expect Indy to make SOME sort of signing, whether it be Fransisco (please don't be) or another veteran, we need more talent at the position. Its been reported that Mike Newton has been impressive at practice (both this year and last), so if no signing is made, he will most likely be the backup. Depth Chart: Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullit, Mike Newton, Joe Lefeged
Those are the main training camp battles that I'm anticipating. I know I left out a few positions like TE, O-Line, and K/P, but I'm assuming the TE is already established (Clark, Tamme, Elridge, Snow) and I will make a separate post for the O-line. Our K/Ps are both solid so they should expect to be on the team next season. Go Colts!
With the Lockout putting an interesting twist on this NFL off season, many Colts fans were hoping to see a free agency splash from our front office. They were likely disappointed. The Colts haven't been huge spenders in free agency (like the Eagles), they didn't make headlines with their draft-day decisions (like the Falcons), and they haven't exactly been active traders on the market (like the Patriots). However, this does not mean that the Colts have had a bad off season; quite the opposite actually. There are many reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2011 season, and this team will undoubtedly be better because of 3 off season happenings...
First, the draft. As already mentioned, we may not have made national headlines with our selections, but we drafted exactly what this team needed. The Colts selected OT Anthony Castanzo from Boston College with the #22 overall pick. Castanzo should be able to step in right away as the team's starting left tackle. The team then traded up in the 2nd round, and selected OT Ben Ijalana of Villanova. Ben is a versatile lineman who projects as the Colts' future Right Tackle, but can slide inside to Guard if need be. In the 3rd round, the Colts decided to address their defensive needs, but again focused on the line, drafting DT Drake Nevis out of LSU. Nevis appears to fit well with what the Colts need, in that he possesses a quick initial burst and often spends most of his time disrupting plays in the opposing backfield. With their 4th round selection, the Colts drafted RB Delone Carter of Syracuse, who is an absolute bowling ball of a football player. He's 5'9", 220 Lbs, and should provide the team with a physical, short-yardage back. All 4 of these players have the potential to make an immediate impact for the Colts. MockingTheDraft.com agrees:
Winner: Indianapolis Colts - If there is one team that showed they want to win right now, it's the Indianapolis Colts. The team found the two offensive lineman it needs in Anthony Castanzo and Ben Ijalana and a scheme-perfect defensive tackle in Drake Nevis. Delone Carter should get a lot of carries at running back if his health holds up.
Secondly, the Colts have been quietly effective in free agency. This team doesn't need to bring in top-quality free agents like Nnamdi Asomugha or DeAngelo Williams. Teams like the Colts, Steelers, Giants, & Packers prefer to build through the draft - and those teams have combined to win 4 of the past 5 championships. That isn't to say that free agency doesn't play it's part - there are many ways to improve a football team. While many Colts fans were freaking out over the team's inactivity through the first week of free agency, the front office remained patient; and once again, it appears to have paid off. The Colts signed Peyton Manning to a cap-friendly, below-market-value 5 year, $90 million contract. This hometown discount allowed the Colts to re-sign some of their own free agents: Adam Vinatieri, Joseph Addai, Melvin Bullitt, and Antonio Johnson, all of whom project as starters for the 2011 season. The Colts have also begun digging into other team's free agents, recently signing DE/DT Jamaal Anderson from the Falcons, DT Tommie Harris from the Bears, and LB Ernie Sims from the Lions. All 3 of those players provide depth at a position of need, and should provide a significant boost against the run. Thirdly, finally, and most importantly - the Indianapolis Colts will begin the season healthy. I'm not suggesting that the team will remain 100% healthy throughout the season, but they can't possibly endure as many bad-luck injuries as they did last year. This was a 10-6 team last year that was a kickoff-return away from winning a playoff game. Yet, they did so with Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Brody Eldridge, Gary Brackett, Clint Session, Jerraud Powers, Kelvin Hayden, Jacob Lacey, and Melvin Bullitt all missing significant time. It feels like I just rattled off the entire roster. No team was decimated more by injuries than the Colts last year, which also means that no team will benefit more from a clean bill of health. Peyton Manning was able to throw for 4,700 yards and 33 TD's last season throwing to the likes of Blair White & Jacob Tamme. Imagine what he'll do this year throwing to Austin Collie & Dallas Clark. The Colts are coming off a quiet, but effective off season. People around the league might be sleeping on the Indianapolis Colts, but I'm not. This is a scary-good roster, and as long as #18 is under center, I'll take our chances.
"It's going to be a cram session for everybody. But the young guys are at such a disadvantage, especially dealing with the offense," "It's going to be terrible, especially for some of the undrafted free agents," Wayne said. "It's going to be up to the leaders on this team to keep encouraging them and keep them going."Coach Caldwell:
Coach Jim Caldwell doesn't think that rookie OT Anthony Castonzo will have major issues getting up to speed whenever he gets to training camp. "He's been around working with the guys throughout the summer," Caldwell said. "The big thing is he'll be in shortly, and we'll get him caught up."More reports:
OT Anthony Castonzo, the Colts' first-round draft pick, is happy to have his contract negotiations settled after a brief holdout. “Thanks to the Colts organization we were able to get this done,” Castonzo said in a statement. “Now I am excited to get into camp and get to work with my teammates. I know there is a lot for me to learn and I am going to do whatever I can to get on the field.”Glad that it doesn't sound like there's any hard feelings about the contract, which doesn't have the guaranteed fourth year that Castonzo's agent, Tom Condon, was going for.
OT Anthony Castonzo , DE Jamaal Anderson and LB Ernie Sims arrived in time for Tuesday's afternoon practice. Castonzo, the Colts' top draft pick, had been a holdout. He signed with the team earlier in the day and was able to participate in drills. Anderson and Sims did not practice.Finally Castonzo is in camp. He's the one that needs to adjust to the game. The Colts are going to need him on that line this year. Link has potential at tackle, but Castonzo is the man from here on out.
Sitting out Tuesday afternoon's practice were WR Taj Smith (hamstring), Kevin Thomas (quad), DT DeMario Pressley (hamstring), OG Mike Pollak (hamstring), TE Brody Eldridge (knee), DT Fili Moala (foot)Again, most of these are likely precautions, but I still don't like seeing injuries so early. I know every team has them, but I still don't like it. From George Bremer at the Herald Bulletin:
“He’s (Castonzo) going to have to be a fast learner,” head coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday morning, before the signing was announced. “He is though, too. He’s a smart guy that I think will catch on rather quickly. But the big thing is you have to get out there on the field and have a chance to see Dwight (Freeney) and Robert (Mathis) rush the passer, trying to pass protect against those guys. But we have probably the best situation for young guys because he’s going to see two guys that know how to throw the fastball. So he’ll get a lot of work.”Kyle Devan's advice to rookies:
“I’m sure they’re extra wide-eyed this year being that yesterday was the first time they had ever put on a Colts helmet, but I was in their shoes a few years ago and the biggest thing is not to make the same mistake twice and more importantly don’t make it a third time,” DeVan said. “If you can do that and you can process our offense, you can find a spot on this team. That’s the biggest thing I learned when I got here. ‘Well, I messed up this time.’ But when I got that same look or same play I tried not to mess it up again.”Ben Ijalana's progress (same article as above):
The NFL lockout nixed any chance second-round draft choice Ben Ijalana had to learn the ropes of being a pro football player before Colts training camp. But he’s proving to be a quick study. “My mindset is to acquire as much knowledge that I can learn from any veteran and try not to make any mistakes,” Ijalana said. “I play O-Line, if nobody says my name, I did good. I’m just looking to do my part, hopefully right away.”Overall, all indications out of camp are good. With the new free agents the Colts' signed in the past two days, combined with taking care of rookie signings, there is a lot of positive vibes coming from the Colts lately. In Polian we trust.
This is a preseason Colts mock draft, meaning that neither the collegiate nor the professional league have begun playing games yet. For this reason, indicating draft position or even a player's draft stock, is near impossible, which would mean making a full, 7 round mock draft for a team would be even harder. Keep in mind that there are several things that can make draft stocks rise and lower, which would include things like.. Collegiate season results, arrests, combine/pro day results as well as interviews, and position (ex: Quarterbacks rise as positions like linebacker fall). None of these things have occured yet (well besides position, I guess), so I'll be using the players' draft stocks as they currently appear on most scouting sites.
First Round: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M Height: 6-3. Weight: 215. Reason: Reggie Wayne is declining, on a contract year, wants a long-term deal. However, since Wayne plays on a position that is known not to age well, he will most likely not get a long-term contract, but instead will recieve either a franchise tag or a short (1-2) year deal. This is to get the most production possible before he retires or runs out of gas. Also, both Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez are on contract years as well. Since its highly unlikely that all three of them get re-signed, atleast one of them will need to be replaced. Description: Fuller, a senior with good work ethic, is exactly the type of player that Bill Polian likes to draft early in the draft. He is a great route runner, with good hands and has the size and jumping ability needed to be a solid possession reciever. However, he has problems against Press Coverage, and isn't necesarily a 'burner'. However, he plays faster than his 40 time (about 4.45) indicates. Prediction: The Colts will enter the 2013 season (assuming the Mayans were wrong and that life as we know it doesn't go poof) with Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Jeff Fuller, and Blair White on the depth chart, in that respective order (sorry, Taj Smith). Although he may be the 4th reciever, the Colts' recievers don't exactly have an injury-proof history, so playing time won't be as concerning as it seems. Also, most rookie recievers take atleast a year or two to get accustomed to the NFL level of play, so this would give him a chance to develop without pressure. If Blair White, who wasn't even on the roster at the beginning of the year, could get 35 catches for 500ish yards, I'd say that atleast 42 catches for 525 yards for Fuller seems reasonable. Second Round: Ray Ray Armstrong, SS, Miami Height: 6-4. Weight: 220. Reason: Bob Sanders is gone, and Melvin Bullit is serviceable at best. There is no decent depth behind safety, and as last season has proven, depth means everything. Although Antoine Bethea will have the free safety position locked down for another 4 years, Melvin Bullit will only sign a long-term deal that will most likely involve starter-money, which the front office might be relunctant to give. This would mean that future starter at strong safety is needed. Description: Ray Ray (yes, that is really his name), is Bob Sanders reincarnated, except he is about 8 inches taller and more durable. He's athletic, solid in coverage and is a hard-hitting beast in run support. However, although he has all the physical tools, he bites on play-action more than you'd like and allows his fair share amount of plays. You can always teach a player how to coverage, but you can't teach him to be a physical specimen. If you're still not convinced, just imagine how catchy yelling "Ray Ray" would be after he lays out a reciever going through the middle, or after he intercepts a pass. Exactly. Prediction: He'll most likely split playing time with Melvin Bullit, but will win the starting job late in the season after Bullit re-injures his shoulder. He'll end the season with 65 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Him, Bullit and Bethea will be the most feared safety combo in the entire league. Third Round: Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU Height: 6-6. Weight: 325. Reason: Ryan Diem will most likely be cut after this season, and Ben Ijalana most likely will be the starting RT this season (Bill Polian stated they viewed Ijalana as a long-term RT).However, with Mike Pollak, and Jamey Richards on the last year of their contract (finally), the Right Guard position, has become vacant. Drafting Reynolds allows Ijalana to kick inside, which should yield positive results. Description: Big, and athletic. Those two words describe the type of line that the Colts seem to want to base their zone-blocking scheme on, and coincidently they also describe Matt Reynolds. Reynolds however, will be 25 at the beginning of the season. He will most likely drop due to that reason and result in being a steal to whoever drafts him. He may be a slight project, due to some inconsistancies in hand placement, but has is talented enough to be able to start at Right Tackle. Prediction: He will start all 16 games, and the starting day line-up will be.. Anthony Constanzo, Charlie Johnson, Jacques McClendon, Ben Ijalana, Matt Reynolds. Fourth Round: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue Height: 6-3. Weight: 305. Reason: The current roster is composed of all 3 techs, and Antonio Johnson, who is replaceable. The Colts desperate need a new starter, or even decent depth at the position (because we all don't want to see Daniel Muir playing NT again..). Description: A local product with the size and athleticism to eventually become a starter at the 1-tech position. He can stop the run and rush the passer, and has a quick first step off the ball. He can also play the 3 tech position. Prediction: With virtually no competition, he is almost guarenteed a starting job or at the very least, the backup for 1 tech. I expect about 25 tackles, 4 Tackles for Loss, 1 Sack. Fifth Round: Lonnie Edwards, G, Texas Tech Height: 6-4. Weight: 322. Reason: With the retirement of Jeff Saturday, and the loss of interior line depth after next season, the Colts need a project player that can provide solid depth in the interior of the line. Description: Scouting reports aren't out yet on him, but based on pure measurements, Edwards seems to be a good project. Good speed for his weight, and has been a reliable, 3 year starter. Prediction: He will replace Mike Pollak/Jamey Richards, and will provide solid depth for several years to come. Sixth Round: Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss Height: 5-11. Weight: 220. Reason: Joseph Addai will be 29 before the season starts, which means his best days are behind them. Donald Brown, although not lacking in pure physical talent, has shown a lack of vision the past 2 years, and Delone Carter isn't good enough of a pass catcher or pass protector to be a full time back. Another running back is needed to either replace Addai or offer a change of pace/ third down back . Description: He has good vision, and has the ability to break tackles. Although he may not run past people (Chris Johnson), or send them to the turf (Adrian Peterson), he can still effectively gain yardage. A great reciever and pass protector, hes exactly the type of running back the Colts will be looking for. Prediction: He'll be fourth on the depth chart, so don't expect TOO much production. However injury prone Addai and Brown on the team, I'm sure he'll have around 65 carries for 285 yards with 20 receptions for 185 yards. Seventh Round: Nathan Williams, DE, Ohio State Height: 6-3. Weight: 260. Reason: Both Mathis and Freeney are aging, and Mathis is in a contract year. Jerry Hughes hasn't shown much at this point and Keyunta Dawson won't make the roster this season. The Colts need a project DE that defensive line coach John Teerlinck can develop into, well the next Robert Mathis. Description: Physically gifted, but hasn't lived up to his athleticism. Hes good enough against the run, but needs to refine his pass rushing techniques. Prediction: He'll be dead last on the depth chart, so maybe 20 tackles (about 8 of them from special teams) and 2 TFL would be a reasonable expectation. Scouting reports haven't been completed for most draft prospect which is why the description is slightly vague. I did some of the description based on pure statistics and measurements, so sorry in advance for any mistakes. Also I know I posted this on Stampede Blue as well, but alot of Colts fans have boycotted the site so I'll reposted it here.
Talk and praise of Austin Collie has definitely not been in short supply. It's hard not to notice the impact that the man has had on the Colts offense when he's healthy and on the field. He came in as a somewhat promising fourth round prospect from BYU, racking up over 3,000 yards and 30 TDs in 3 seasons. (Spent 2004 - 2007 on a Mormon mission trip) Collie surpassed all expectations and pleasantly surprised many a Colts fans, and probably #18 himself. His first season as a Colt saw him working exclusively out of the slot and he quickly became one of Manning's favorite targets as he hauled in 60 catches for nearly 700 yards and 7 scores.
Collie only got better the following season starting off with a bang in Houston (11 rec, 163 yds, TD) and leading the league among pass-catchers (58 rec, 649 yds, 8 TD) until his season was cut short by two unfortunate concussions. On a record-breaking pace, Collie proved that he has what it takes to be this team's next big receiver. Collie's only experience has been in the slot, however, I envision more for this extraordinary young talent. Watching him blast past opposing cornerbacks and safeties from the hashes more than makes me believe he has the speed and ability to work on the outside, eventually. The injury history of Anthony Gonzalez may mean that this is a make or break year for his career as a Colt, and Pierre Garcon's inconsistency is troubling, and often frustrating, given his talent level and game-breaking speed. Enter Collie... the Colt's (and the NFL's) surest hands (82% catch rate) highest DVOA (28.4% - good enough for 3rd best in the NFL -- in only 8 games) and he's no tortoise coming off the line either (clocked as fast as 4.51 in the 40 yard dash-- as a comparison, Garcon clocks a 4.48) The only real question is, can Collie work as well as his numbers have suggested against the league's best corners? He has shown the speed, ability, and precise route running that elite wide receivers exhibit. Health is really the only concern that this amazing player can be knocked on. Concussions have shortened the career of many an NFL player, but if Austin can bounce back from his sudden injury concerns... the sky's the limit.
Former Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris isn't going to have to move very far. Harris has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts, according to a league source.... Harris visited the New England Patriots recently, but he's headed to the Colts, a club that runs a defense similar to the Bears.Fans were clamoring for a Tommie Harris signing all off-season, and this is a great signing for them. Harris adds a proven defensive tackle to a lineup that is filled with largely unproven, young players who have potential, but haven't fulfilled it yet. Harris was drafted 14th in 2004 by the Bears, and has been one of the league's best defensive tackles ever since. However, in the last couple years, Harris' skills have declined due to injury troubles. He's had problems with both knee and hamstring injuries in the last few years, and lost his starting position in 2010. After the season, Harris was cut by the Bears. However, for the Colts, Harris is a cheap, low risk option to boost their defensive tackle rotation. Chris Polian has done a tremendous job of adding low-risk, high reward players in the past few days, and Harris is another one of those guys, at a position where the Colts truly needed it. Despite Harris' nagging injury bugs, he is still only 28, and could be a very productive player in the Colts system. The only problem with this signing is that Harris has generally played at the under tackle position, a position where the Colts have plenty of options. The Colts defensive tackle roster looks like this as of now: Tommie Harris, Jamaal Anderson, John Gill, Ollie Ogbu, Fili Moala, Ricardo Matthews, Drake Nevis, Eric Foster, DeMario Pressley, and Antonio Johnson. Out of all of them, Johnson is the only proven one-tech, although Matthews may have potential there, and Nevis and Anderson are unknown. If Harris could be an effective one-tech for the Colts, it would be a perfect fit, if not, then we'll see what happens. For now, we wait to see where this new front office goes next. Many Colts' fans are clamoring for Donte Whitner, ex-Bill, to sign with the Colts. I doubt this will happen, as Melvin Bullitt was just signed, and Whitner is rumored to be asking for a big contract. However, I would love to see it happen. Either way, this day has made Colts Nation quite excited for the 2011 season, as they should be. In Polian we trust.
Sims has never mastered some of the finer points of player in the NFL like coverage for example. Without laying into him too much, he’s probably (position for position) the worst starter we’ve graded over the past three years. In 2010 he was our third lowest ranked 4-3 OLB and the worst for the two years previous. Colts fans, it’s nice you’ve signed a free agent, but try not to get too excited.While PFF's analysis may be a little on the down side (sarcasm), Sims should be in contention to start in 2011. Sims is a hard hitter, with the size and speed to be a solid WILL, but he's known to over pursue and be out of position. Sims seems to be a carbon copy of Clint Session, who just signed an enormous contract with the Jaguars. At the worst, the Colts got solid linebacker depth for cheap. At best, the Colts got Session back for waaaaay less money. Either way, it's a low risk, high reward move for the Colts. If the coaches can teach him to keep his gap and play his position, the Colts may have just gotten a huge steal.
There has been unrest among some Colts fans lately, mainly due to the lack of Colts activity in free agency and the idea that the Colts haven't improved since their loss to the Jets in the playoffs. Let me start off by saying that the Colts never get active in free agency, so this year wasn't going to be any different. Free Agents are usually released or go unsigned for a reason. If a team really wanted to keep a player, there are tenders, tags, or the more popular option of offering them a big contract. Meaning, if a team really wanted a player to stick around, they could make it happen. The main problem with free agents is that they likely have reached their potential, and won't get any better. Unless Eric Weddle was going to come cheap, the Colts weren't going to sign any major free agents this year. The Colts get better the second guys like Dallas Clark, Jerraud Powers, and Melvin Bullitt get healthy. The reason the Colts lost to the Jets is simple, they were the most injured team in the league, and their back ups just weren't good enough to fill the void of the starters. It's as simple as that, if the Colts were healthy, they win that game, and maybe 3 more games after that. The only thing that is stopping the Colts from taking a run at the Super Bowl this year is themselves. If they stay relatively healthy, they have a good shot at it. But if injuries are anything like last year, it will be a disappointing year for the Colts.
Off to Anderson! Finally time for some footballI can only imagine that this means that they've finally come to an agreement on Castonzo's rookie contract! Woooooo! This is great news for the Colts, to get the left tackle ready for the 2011 season. The sooner Castonzo is ready to start, the better. Until then, it looks like Jeff Linkenbach will be starting. While I'm excited to see Link progress at tackle this year, I'd like to see it at right tackle, not left. Check back for updates as the details are released.
Defensive end Jamaal Anderson signs one-year deal with the Colts, per league source.Anderson was drafted eighth overall in the 2007 draft by the Atlanta Falcons as a defensive end. He was great at the University of Arkansas, but was a bust at pass rushing defensive end for the Falcons. In four years, he had only 4.5 sacks at DE. He did however, turn out quite well as a run stopper, as Pro Football Focus ranked him sixth in DE's versus the run in 2010. At 6-6, 290 pounds, Anderson is bigger than Eric Foster, the same size as Ricardo Matthews, and about 10 pounds lighter than most of the other DT's. If he can put on a few more pounds, he could very easily be in the defensive tackle rotation. While he was drafted as a defensive end, and started there at Atlanta, he eventually turned into a tweener. The Colts love tweeners, players who can play both DT and DE, because they like to play fast and light. The most likely scenario for Anderson? My guess is that he'll be part of the rotation at defensive tackle, with the occasional plays at end. What I don't think is that this means anything for Jerry Hughes. Hughes was drafted to be a pass rusher, while Anderson has been a bust at rushing the passer for the Falcons. At any rate, welcome Jamaal Anderson to the Colts!
From Tom James at CBSSports:
CB Kevin Thomas (quad), OG Mike Pollak (hamstring), TE Brody Eldridge (knee) and DT Fili Moala (foot) did not take part in Monday's afternoon practice. C Jeff Saturday also sat out but is expected to take part in Tuesday's workouts.
More not-so-happy injury updates from the first day of the Colts training camp.
While this isn't a big deal for the Colts (neither is Blair White's injury, I was being dramatic this morning), it still is somewhat disconcerting that Kevin Thomas is hurt from the get go. Thomas and Moala are key parts of this team's future, and are supposed to be vital cogs in the 2011 defense. Both are also very young, and in Thomas' case, has no game experience. I would really like to see them participating in camp.
Hopefully all this injury talk is merely precautions, wanting to get into the season fully loaded and ready to finish a full season.
For the first time in this Crazy Free Agent Frenzy, I feel the Colts missed out on a quality player who could improve the team. Does this mean the Colts plan to start Rookie Anthony Castonzo at LT? Or heaven forbid, Link? I bet AC gets that 4th year guaranteed now. I hope Charlie's contract is a whopper. That would explain letting him get way.
According to Tom James at CBS Sports, Blair White has been placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
WR Blair White has been placed on the Colts' Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. The nature or the extent of his injury has not been announced by team officials.
This isn't exactly the best start to the season, injury wise. The Colts had a horrendous season last year, in terms of injuries, and I don't want to see that again.
While Blair White is expendable (especially if Gonzo can stay healthy this season, knock on wood), it's somewhat depressing to see an injury on the first day of camp. Then again, we don't even know what it is yet, so I'll stop with the depressing tone. Lord knows we have enough of it around the interwebs.
Well, after all of the madness that has gone on in the last few days, I think I've got a handle on the current situation (sorry about not updating yesterday, had a wedding to attend).
First, PEYTON MANNING IS SIGNED!!!!! His deal is being reporting to be for five years, at a total of $90 million. Manning will be paid $23 million for the first three years, and then 10.5 for the final two years. Apparently after the new TV deal in 2013, Manning's deal will be restructured to give him a bit more. The cap hit for 2011 will be roughly $16 million, giving the Colts a little more wiggle room to sign people in the next few days.
Second, it turns out that Ryan Diem isn't gone after all. While it was rumored that he was cut, it turns out that he either restructured his deal, or was cut and then signed a new, one year deal. Either way, he's back for 2010, for good or for bad. My expectations? He starts for a few games, but Link takes over halfway through the season. Well, that's my hope anyway.
Third, Kelvin Hayden has been cut. Personally, I think it's a mistake to cut Hayden and keep Diem, considering that Hayden is better at his job than Diem is at his, and Diem provided more cap relief (although, he did take a pay cut, so I'm not sure how that works out). I still think Hayden is a decent starter in our system if he stays healthy, and we don't have a proven starter to take his place. Perhaps this is a good sign for what the staff sees in young guys like Kevin Thomas and Chris Rucker.
Fourth, the Colts officially announced the resigning of Eric Foster (we announced yesterday), Mookie Johnson, Kyle DeVan, and Michael Toudeze. Also, Dan Muir is a Ram, and won't be back to the Colts. A flurry of expected moves which are all good in my opinion, as Mookie is our best 1-tech DT (unless Drake Nevis pans out as an NT) and DeVan is our best guard.