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Tag:Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: November 29, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 2:02 pm
 

Colts fire DC Coyer, promote QB Orlovsky

Coyer is out as defensive coordinator, Orlovsky is in at quarterback. (Getty Images/AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's been a busy day in the AFC South. The Jaguars fired head coach Jack Del Rio this morning, and by lunchtime, the Colts announced that they had relieved defensive coordinator Larry Coyer of his duties. Because, really, the defense was the primary reason the team is off to an 0-11 start.

“The move was made to improve communication and production,” Head Coach Jim Caldwell, via the team's web site. “We feel this is the most effective and realistic way to move forward and win games this season. We appreciate all of the effort and hard work Larry Coyer put forth in his three years with the Colts.”

We suspect that owner Jim Irsay will be issuing similar comments after the season when we learn that Caldwell has suffered the same fate as Coyer. For now, he's still in charge of a team that has a realistic chance to go winless in 2011.

Linebackers coach Mike Murphy has been assigned to replace Coyer.

In other Colts-related news, Caldwell has announced a new starting quarterback.

“Dan Orlovsky will (start this week at New England),” he said. “He’s been working at it and getting himself ready. … I think he’s a guy that certainly is comfortable within the framework of the system. I think he is a guy that’s also been around the league a while. He’s able to adjust and adapt to different systemic problems that you may have or see from a defense. He can adjust to those very easily. He has a nice, strong arm. We’re anticipating he’s going to be accurate as well, that’s key. The big is, obviously, to stay away from turnovers. He’s got to play smart and not scared."

It seems like a great opportunity for Orlovsky, who's probably best known for running unprovoked out of the back of the end zone when he played for the Lions during the 2008 season (Detroit, incidentally, went 0-16 that year). But the Colts' schedule shapes up like this the next two weeks: at New England, at Baltimore. If he survives that, Indy closes out against Tennessee, Houston and at Jacksonville.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Coach Killers, Week 12: beware of untested QBs

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Steve Johnson, Bills

First things first: we have absolutely no issue with Stevie Johnson's touchdown skit. Up till the moment he fell to the ground, at which point it became a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. Prior to that, it was original and funny, two things we could use more of in the staid environs of Roger Goodell's NFL.

We can't take our eyes off the cousin Eddie-inspired dickie.
In fact, the biggest travesty -- outside of the way Johnson played on the final drive -- was the mock incredulity and sanctimony from folks who found the dance offensive (Looks at Bob Costas, who we've taken to calling "Sprockets" after that black mock turtleneck number from Sunday night) because Johnson was making fun of Plaxico Burress, who accidentally shot himself in the leg three years ago.

Here's the thing: Plax shot himself in the leg three years ago. It's not like Johnson was making fun of someone with a special-needs child, or a cancer survivor. He was clowning a dude who carried a gun to a night club, and inadvertently put a bullet in his thigh.

Oh, he also served nearly two years for the incident, on concealed weapons charges.


Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson mocks Plaxico Burress' gun incident during a touchdown celebration against the New York Jets on Sunday.

To recap: Johnson's TD dance: hilarious. Getting a 15-yard penalty: not hilarious. Dropping a perfect pass from Fitzpatrick on the Bills' last drive, one that would've given the Bills the lead: unacceptable, especially if you're going to mock the opposition.

Johnson apologized immediately after the game, which doesn't change the final score.

"I was just having fun, and part of having fun ended up being a penalty and a touchdown for the Jets," he said. "It was a stupid decision by myself."

Head coach Chan Gailey, doing everything in his power not to blow a gasket with the cameras rolling, said "I think it was wrong. I told him so. What I hate is that game is remembered for his one action rather than a lot of good things he did in the game. I told him where I stand on it, and he knows exactly."

When asked about possible sanctions against Johnson, Gailey added: "If I were to discipline everybody (for dumb mistakes), there wouldn't be any players or coaches out there. Everybody makes mistakes."

On Monday, ESPN's Merril Hoge went so far as to suggest that Gailey should cut Johnson for his selfish behavior. That ain't happening because despite Johnson's horrible timing, as ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith pointed out on Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, Johnson is one of the few players who made Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis look human in coverage.


Burress, for his part, seemed unaffected by Johnson's end zone interpretive dance.

"I've seen worse, and I've heard worse," said Burress, who spent nearly two years in an upstate New York prison. "So, it doesn't bother me at all. The result I'm looking at is we won the football game ... and he turned around and dropped three wide-open balls to lose it for his team."

Curtis Painter, Colts

At this point, 11 games into the season and still searching for their first win, we're probably piling on. But the Colts don't have to be oh-fer-'11. Not only did they look like a proper football team against the Panthers Sunday, they had a legitimate chance to win an actual football game.

And then Curtis Painter, unable to get out of his own way, derailed those plans with two ill-timed throws -- both interceptions -- during a four-minute span late in the fourth quarter with Indianapolis trailing by eight points.

The first pick came at the Carolina four-yard line with four and a half minutes to go. After the Colts' defense forced a three-and-out, Painter led an 11-play drive that ended with another interception, this time in the Panthers' end zone with 35 seconds remaining.

It's impossible to imagine a scenario that would have Indy sitting at 0-11, even without Peyton Manning. And yet here we are. Painter Bears little of the responsibility for the organization's current predicament; that falls squarely at the feet of Bill Polian and Chris Polian, the architects of the current roster. That doesn't make the latest loss any easier to take.

"I don't know what you can call beyond frustrated," defensive end Robert Mathis said, via the Indianapolis Star.

And head coach Jim Caldwell, who could be looking for work after the season, leaned on feel-good bromides to get him through the latest defeat.

"You can't complain after the ballgame's over," he said. "You've just got to find a way to make it happen. …One of the things you'd like to do is give yourself a chance to win, that you're there at the end and it's just a matter of a play made here or there. I think we did that, but our goal is to win."

If you say so, Jim. We're guessing in your end-of-year meeting with owner Jim Irsay, aspiring to win won't be enough.

Caleb Hanie, Bears

There were certainly worse performance in Week 12, but the absolute worst play, in our estimation, had to be Hanie's delayed fake spike with seconds on the clock and the Bears trailing by five points. The thing is, a delayed fake spike isn't like your run-of-the-mill spike to stop the clock. Turns out, it's intentional grounding. Either you can fake the spike and throw the ball (made famous by Dan Marino), or, you know, actually spike it and stop the clock.

                                           HOW TO vs. HOW NOT TO PROPERLY EXECUTE THE FAKE SPIKE


‘‘We didn’t have any fakes or anything like that,’’ Hanie said afterwards. ‘‘That was just my fault." Forced into duty after Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the Chargers, Hanie also threw three first-half interceptions, which lead to this post-game observation. "It's just not a good time to have a learning experience."

Not helping Hanie's chances for success: offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the man who said he had no intentions of asking Hanie to be Kurt Warner (we thought that went without saying). Martz, it turns out, also had no intentions of crafting a game plan for an inexperienced backup.

Our good buddy Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com's Eye on Baseball blogger and diehard Bears fan, was pretty worked up with Hanie's third interception. Not because it happened near the Raiders' end zone, or that it resulted in three Oakland points before the half, but because Martz had Hanie sprint right before throwing a screen pass to his left across the field. It's not an easy play for veterans well-versed in the offense, never mind a kid making his first NFL start.

Tyler Palko, Chiefs

One word to describe Palko's play the last two weeks: mesmerizing. Clearly, we don't mean that in a "Stop what you're doing, Devin Hester's about to return a punt!" way. More like "Stop what you're doing, spectacular train wreck ahead." And Palko didn't disappoint. He's left-handed, and his throwing motion is reminscent of Tim Tebow's. The difference? Tebow has eight touchdowns to one interception. Palko has six picks in two games. Tebow also has better arm strength and is more accurate.

Tebow also doesn't blame his intended target whenever a pass invariably finds the unintended target, which is exactly what Palko did on three separate occasions Sunday night against the Steelers. It's one thing for a receiver to run the wrong route, or for miscommunication to lead to mistakes. But you watch these throws (here and here) and tell me how anybody but Palko is at fault.

But it was the Chiefs' final offensive play that proved to be the worst. Trailing 13-9 and with about 30 seconds to go, Kansas City was driving. And then Palko happened. Yep, another pick, this time to Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis. After the play, NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth thought Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe quit on the play.

You can judge for yourself below, but here's what we're thinking: the ball was so horribly off-target that Bowe went up, realized that he had absolutely no chance to get a finger on it much less catch it, and decided to protect himself. We have no problem with that. Bowe's career shouldn't hinge on the erratic whims of Palko's arm. As NFL Network's Deion Sanders pointed out Sunday night, Palko's the type of quarterback the opposing team make sure gets to the game. "You send a limo for him," Primetime said.


Palko's third and final interception Sunday night. Yep, that was his fault, too.

Facial Hair Fails

This has absolutely nothing to do with job security, but we noticed a sudden influx of mustachioed NFL players (or in Ricky Stanzi's case, hippies) over the weekend. (Click photos to see our best guess at their inspirations.)


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Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:38 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 12

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 10 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 
(Ed. Note: Monday's podcast will be up around lunch due to some travel/family stuff.)

1. Run Like Hell -- Er, Heck

Every week, Tim Tebow takes the field as the Broncos quarterback, and every week everyone sits around and snarks at the Broncos running the ball an obscene number of times. Sunday's 16-13 overtime victory in San Diego featured Tebow toting the rock a ridiculous 22 times.

Just for some historical perspective, Tebow's now the only player in post-merger NFL history to attempt 20 rushes and 10 passes in a single game.

People rip the guy for ruining the quarterback position, or not playing it in a "real" way, but everyone very conveniently ignores three factors. One, he can make throws -- a pair of touchdown strikes to Eric Decker in the past two weeks were the difference between 2-0 and 0-2. Two, Tebow simply doesn't turn the ball over. Only 22 quarterbacks since 1970 have finished the year with 250-plus passing attempts, less than five picks and less than five fumbles. Tebow could be No. 23. (Aaron Rodgers could be No. 24.)

And most importantly, the Broncos have a strong running game with Willis McGahee, and an even stronger defense that no one wants to give credit to. If someone else, like a Brad Johnson-type, is quarterbacking this team, the defense gets all the credit. Because it's Tebow, that's the focus.

That's just how it is, and that's fine. After all, Tebow's now beaten every single AFC West rival this season on the road. He is a story. He is the story.

But maybe -- with all due acknowledgement of the silliness involved in "clutchability" -- it shouldn't be all that surprising that Tebow and the Broncos bested Norv Turner and the Chargers in the fourth quarter and overtime. Eking out victories from teams willing to hand over a win thanks to silly mistakes is the modus operandi of the 2011 Broncos, and giving away wins with silly mistakes is what Turner's Bolts teams do best.

San Diego's now last (!) in the AFC West and the only bright spot to this season, outside of Ryan Mathews emerging as a viable feature back if he can stay healthy, is the likelihood of Turner being shipped out of town following this season. You can like or dislike Turner all you want, and he's turned Philip Rivers into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but this Chargers team needs some fresh blood.

Denver's one game back of the playoffs thanks to holding a tiebreaker over the Jets, and they've got the tiebreaker over the Bengals too. A game-managing quarterback plus a running game plus a stout defense has had success in the NFL before.

So if you're still hating on Tebow, just quit and enjoy the ride.

2. Bear Down, Again

Ignore for a second the fact that Bears starting quarterback Caleb Hanie doesn't even know how to properly spike the ball at the end of the game. And ignore that he finished 18 of 36 with three interceptions on the day in Chicago's 25-20 loss to Oakland Sunday.

Because the Bears are still going to make the playoffs. Or, at least, they can.

As noted last week, Chicago's still got a very Chicago formula for making it to the postseason, with Devin Hester on special teams (kudos to Hue Jackson and Shane Lechler for avoiding him Sunday) and a defense that sacked Carson Palmer four times Sunday and limited the Raiders to just a single touchdown.

That type of play will go a long way against opponents like the Seahawks, Vikings, Chiefs and Broncos, all of whom are on Chicago's schedule the rest of the way in. And a quick look at our 2011 NFL Playoff Race Tracker reveals that only two worthy teams in the NFC will actually be shut out of the postseason (the Lions and the Giants are currently odd men out).

I'm not a huge fan of moral victories, especially when an actual loss reveals just how poorly your backup quarterback can play. And don't get me wrong -- Hanie has plenty of flaws and won't make things easy for Chicago the rest of the way. But if you're the Bears, you have to believe Sunday's showing means a playoff berth is still possible.

3. T.J. Yates: An All-Time Great

The case of T.J. Yates is a weird one. Thanks to a (likely) season-ending injury to Matt Leinart, Yates appears to be the de facto starter in Houston and, as Pete Prisco pointed out in his grades column, next in line to suffer a nasty injury as a result of the football gods really not wanting the Texans to smell success.

But you know what makes Yates' case even weirder? He's probably the most successful NFL quarterback in North Carolina Tar Heel history, despite being a rookie, having never started a game and despite having accumulated his career passing numbers -- 8/15 for 70 yards and no touchdowns -- on Sunday in backup duty.

That's because the only other option for "top NFL quarterback in UNC football history" is Scott Stankavage, who played in four games over two NFL seasons with the Broncos (three in 1984) and the Dolphins (one in 1987) and managed to complete 32 percent of his 25 attempted passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. (In fairness, Yates is also one of only two UNC quarterbacks drafted since the merger, which is insane.)

His entire career wasn't as successful as Yates' Sunday afternoon in Week 12.

4. "Fire Who?"

The fans want it, as evidenced by the Eagles crowd raining "Fire Andy" chants on the field amid New England's 38-20 shellacking of Philly.

"The way we played, I can understand," Reid said afterward.

It's never easy to sympathize with any supporter of Philly sports, mainly because they're too vitriolic in their reaction. (There's a reason the battery-throwing, Santa Claus-booing stereotype exists.) And it's real easy to laugh at the Eagles plight, especially after they "won the offseason" with a ton of free-agent moves and name-brand signings.

But suggesting that the Eagles should dump Reid is silly, especially when there's a smarter path to success.

1) Fire Juan Castillo. This is coming anyway, you gotta think, and it's not that unreasonable. 2) Re-work the defensive scheme. Hire someone who can take the incredibly talented defensive group Philly has and actually utilize them properly. 3) Dump DeSean Jackson. He's ridiculously talented, but Jackson's got the look of a guy who's wrecking this locker room with contract and attitude problems. (Or maybe, as Clark Judge wrote Sunday, he's a symptom of a larger problem. Either way, he's not helping and he's not happy.) 4) Draft/trade/sign linebackers, safeties and offensive linemen in the offseason and actually address weaknesses.

This isn't an "easy" solution, of course. But this Eagles team has too much talent and Andy Reid's got too much success in Philly to simply blow everything up because the Dream Team experiment went awry in the first season.

He's also inherently tied to Philly's franchise quarterback, Michael Vick. One more bad year from both guys and it might be worth discussing a change, but just because Philly fans are naturally angry doesn't mean Eagles management should have a naturally knee-jerk reaction to 2011.

5. Why So Serious?

There's no reason to sit here and get in an uproar over Stevie Johnson's touchdown celebration against the Jets, in which he mocked Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes by pretending to shoot himself in the leg and then crash a plane. (Besides, Bob Costas' "get off my lawn" Sunday night halftime rant took care of that.)

I like the move, because it's a big-time slap in the face to the Jets, the Bills need some swagger, and as long as you back up your trash-talk, do what you want.

The problem with Johnson's TD is that as soon as he pulled off a celebration mocking a pair of wideouts on the other team, his game went in the toilet. (Stop me if this sounds familiar.)

Look, I think Johnson's an awesome talent and a great dude and if I'm in charge of meting out discipline, someone who landed a helmet-to-helmet hit on Sunday is washing Johnson's white t-shirt collection, just because his celebrations are hysterical.

But if you're going to publicly mock a colleague for literally shooting himself in the foot, you can't turn around and spend the rest of the game figuratively doing the same thing to yourself and your team, which is precisely what Johnson did when he egged on a would-be game-winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter:



That's exactly why I refuse to get all amped up about whether what he did was right or wrong. Johnson will almost certainly be fined by the NFL. Johnson will -- as Mike Freeman's already noted -- be subject to league-wide and public scorn. And, most importantly, his team lost because after his premature celebration, the Jets wideouts were substantially better than Johnson was.

6. Shananigans

There's no chance that any other football journalist or fan or couch-bound pundit knows as much about managing a football team as Mike Shanahan. The man has two Super Bowl wins. Enough said.

But why on Earth did it take so long to get Roy Helu touches?

The Redskins rookie running back rumbled for 108 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught seven passes for 54 yards in Washington's surprise 23-17 comeback victory in Seattle Sunday.

This would be shocking, but Helu already set the franchise record for receptions in a game three weeks ago, and averaged five yards per carry more than Ryan Torain two weeks ago, so giving him the rock seemed obvious to everyone ... except Shanahan.

Seattle's rush defense is one of the best in the NFL (3.5 yards per carry allowed going in and coming out of the loss), so it's not like Helu was carving up the Panthers or Colts here.

The obvious reward for his impressive game on the ground and remaining Rex Grossman's most reliable target is a much-deserved, one-carry afternoon next week against the Jets. Don't say I didn't warn you, fantasy owners.

7. 0-Fer

The Colts became the first NFL team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, just minutes before the Rams were booted as well, thanks to their 27-19 loss to Carolina in Indy Sunday.

Everyone knew they were already eliminated, of course, and everyone knows they'll land the top-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the big question is, can the 2008 Detroit Lions keep their bottles of Andre on ice for the time being?

Probably not -- Indy looks like a pretty good lock to finish the season at 0-16, based on their remaining schedule.

First up in Week 13 is New England (in Foxboro) and there's no reason to spend time wondering if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will get trapped against a one-time arch-rival in a free "kick 'em while they're down" game. They won't. At Baltimore in Week 14 should be a lock for a double-digit blowout too. The Ravens have stumbled against bad teams, but not at home, and no one's had a defense as bad as Indy.

Tennessee (Week 15) and Houston (Week 16) at home shouldn't present challenges for Indy when it comes to losing either, considering that both teams appear to have capable rushing attacks. Even if Chris Johnson still looks like he's wading through a giant jar of jelly when he hits the hole, he's been effective against bad rushing defenses this year.

That leaves at Jacksonville in Week 17, and which isn't even their best chance at being favored (read: getting more than a 50 percent chance of winning from Vegas). That will be Tennessee, but the Titans will still be favored by at least three points in Indy, like the Panthers were.

And none of the remaining teams on the schedule have a defense nearly as bad as the Panthers, which means there's a 60-plus percent chance Indy goes winless this year. At least.

8. Rookie of the Year Race

Fortunately, we get to honor a Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL. Because otherwise, we might have a big old heated argument about who the most deserving rookie in 2011 is. Last week, I threw my [substantial only in the literal sense] weight behind Andy Dalton leaping past Cam Newton for the top rookie, but now I'm not so sure.

That's not because Cam went bananas in a win on Sunday so much as it was Dalton only beating the Browns because he's got another rookie -- wideout A.J. Green -- on his team, who might secretly be the best option for the award on the Bengals roster.

Cincy remained in playoff contention -- they're currently the No. 6 seed -- thanks to Green making big catches to set up scores all day.

On the defensive end of things, Von Miller continued to state his case for ROY honors with 10 total tackles and another sack. And what about Patrick Peterson, who returned a fourth punt return for a TD on the year? Dude's defensive improvement is underrated so far this year, especially in a tough situation, and it'll be interesting to see how his game-changing impact on special teams will rate for voters -- three of his teeters have, literally, been game-winning scores.

9. A Quarterback League

Watching the Chiefs stifle the Steelers for much of the Sunday night game -- eventually won by Pittsburgh 13-9 -- was picture proof of how important having a good quarterback really is. Matt Cassel might have struggled against the Steelers defense, but Tyler Palko was absolutely miserable, going 18/28 for 167 yards and three picks.

The same can be said for Jacksonville, who knocked Matt Leinart out against Houston, but couldn't muster any sort of offense because no one would respect Blaine Gabbert, much less McCown.

Teams that don't have a good quarterback can still win by playing smart and running the hell out of the ball, but the Jaguars and Chiefs are great proof as to just how quickly a team can fade out relevancy as a result of lacking substantial skill under center.

The Jacksonville and Kansas City defenses have put their respective offenses in decent position to win games over the past couple of weeks, but an inability to move the ball resulted in a pair of losses for each squad. (Romeo Crennel's defensive scheming against Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger was particularly impressive, and even more depressing when you think about how badly it was wasted.)

Which is precisely why it's impossible to be too bullish about the playoff chances for teams like the Texans and the 49ers.

10. And the Oscar Goes To ...

Jerome Simpson for the flop of the NFL season. And maybe NFL history? It's hard to even call this a "storyline," because it's not. There's no epidemic of flopping hitting the NFL and Christian Ronaldo isn't going to be defecting any time soon.

But Simpson's flop, which you can watch here, is just too amazing to ignore.

Oh yes, and the Bengals snuck one out against the Browns, holding onto their sixth seed in the playoffs. They've got the look of a team that isn't quite ready to quit trying out this possible pipe dream of a postseason run, but if they play like they did against the Browns when they get the Steelers, Texans and Ravens over the next three weeks, it's hard to imagine them sneaking in with three 6-5 teams (Titans, Jets, Broncos) hanging out on the fringe.

And that flop wouldn't be nearly as pretty as Simpson's.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Percy Harvin's 104-yard kick return that didn't produce a touchdown on Sunday was the longest non-scoring play in NFL history.
... Peterson is also the only player in NFL history with four punt return touchdowns of 80-plus yards or more in a season.
... And the Rams-Cardinals game was the first in NFL history to feature an 80-plus yard punt-return TD from each team.
... Cam Newton is just the fourth post-merger quarterback to rush for 10 touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Grogan, Kordell Stewart and Daunte Culpepper on that list.
... Chris Long recorded his 10th sack of the season, meaning he and dad Howie are just the second father-son combo to record double-digit sacks in a season in their career, along with Clay Matthews and his dad, Clay Matthews.
... The Bengals overcame a 10-point halftime deficit for the third time this season, tied for the most in NFL history, along with the 2011 Lions.
...

Worth 1,000 Words



GIF O' THE WEEK

There might be a better option, but watching Tim Tebow hit his X button two seconds too early and then get laid out is pretty entrancing.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Norv Turner: Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes "no playoffs = no more Norv." So, probably no more Norv.
  • Jim Caldwell: If they go 0-16 and draft a new franchise quarterback, how can they carry over the same staff? They can't right?
  • Steve Spagnuolo: He just lost back-to-back games to Seattle and Arizona. Talk about a free-fall.
  • Jack Del Rio: It's a good rule of thumb that if you're flopping your first-round rookie for a McCown brother that your job is in trouble.
  • Tony Sparano: Even if he keeps winning, you gotta think Stephen Ross goes window shopping this offseason.

Chasing Andrew Luck

The Colts have all but locked up the Luck sweepstakes, and with the remaining schedules, we might as well take the numbers off the board. Congratulations for ruining a mini-feature in this column by Week 12, Curtis Painter. You jerk.

MVP Watch

Speaking of jerks, "tanks for nuthin'" Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has one more holiday game left -- a Christmas showdown with the Bears. And the Packers could still lose a game and maybe come back towards the Patriots (if Tom Brady stays hot?), but he's all but sewn up this award pretty early in the season.

Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Reggie Wayne is understandably frustrated

Wayne is on pace for career lows in catches, yards and touchdowns. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

For an idea of just how far and fast the Colts have fallen since losing Peyton Manning before the season, consider that Reggie Wayne has been out of the news since, well, September. This is what happens when you go from one of the NFL's most productive wide receivers to the situation Wayne currently finds himself: a weekly non-factor thanks to a suddenly inept Colts offense.

Manning's replacement, Curtis Painter, has completed just 55 percent of his passes (5 TDs, 7 INTs), and as a consequence, Wayne has just 42 receptions for 530 yards and a lone touchdown. He's on pace for his lowest totals in catches, yards and touchdowns since 2003. Understandably, he's frustrated.

"I always feel 'this week' I'm going to have a big game," Wayne said, according to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell. "So, (today) is going to be my big game of the year. Won't be hard, you know what I mean?"

Wayne's best game came in the opener, a seven-catch, 106-yard effort in a beatdown at the hands of the Texans. In the nine games since, Wayne has had four receptions or fewer seven times and his longest catch of the season is just 36 yards.

"The only way I go without snapping (with) the media is every game when I come in, first thing I do is put my helmet and stuff down and grab my phone," Wayne said. "Always got a text message from my wife and it's a picture of my kids.

"I don't think she's doing it on purpose, but when I see my kids, that calms the storm. They bring everything back."

It was less than four months ago that Wayne was hoping for a new contract. His value has taken a hit this season and he's certainly in line for less than that he could've expected back in August. The drastic drop in productivity isn't his fault, although we suspect that won't much matter when he negotiates his next deal.

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Posted on: November 23, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Report: Luck will enter 2012 NFL draft

LuckPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Suck for Luck? Oh, it’s so on.

In a widely-expected move -- I mean, could you really imagine him returning to Stanford for his senior season? -- quarterback Andrew Luck, the most wanted college player in the NFL, will not return to school after his season is complete.

That’s the word from Yahoo Sports, which reports that Luck will not take college classes next quarter as he prepares himself for the 2012 NFL draft and a possible relocation to Indianapolis.

There were some observers who apparently believed Luck could return to school in order to manipulate which team could possibly take him No. 1 in the draft (if that, in fact, is where Luck is selected). But that’s not going to happen at this point, and when winter quarter classes begin Jan. 9 at Stanford, Luck won’t be there.

More from Yahoo:
“He could still go back and register for classes, but that’s not the plan,” said a source who has known Luck for many years.

Luck’s father, Oliver, who played quarterback in the NFL and is now the athletic director at West Virginia University, wrote via text message that his son “does have academic work this spring that he needs to complete to graduate … and he’s planning to finish his academics.” When asked specifically about whether his son would be taking classes or focusing on his NFL future, Luck wrote: “All I can tell you is that he’ll finish his degree. It is important to him.”

If you were to analyze this situation deeply, you could make the claim that Luck might not want to play in Indianapolis, because there’s a decent chance he’d be stuck behind Peyton Manning for a few years. This assumes, of course, that Manning is healthy and that Indianapolis wouldn’t trade Luck for a boatload of draft picks. But as far as returning to Stanford to avoid that potential clash, it sounds like that’s not playing a factor in his decision.

“That’s not his style,” Yahoo’s source said. “He doesn’t like all the attention to begin with and now you’re talking about doing something that would bring a lot of extra attention on him. … I know it has been done, but there’s no guarantee of where you go. Even now, you can’t figure out what the teams are really going to do. He wants to go somewhere and have a chance to be great. You can’t create that by yourself.”

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 11:01 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 12:13 am
 

Peyton Manning not interested in Ole Miss job

Artist rendering of what Manning would look like as a slightly overweight SEC head coach.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

This much we know: Houston Nutt won't be coaching the Ole Miss football team after the 2011 season. Former Rebels signal caller and progenitor of the modern NFL quarterback, Archie Manning, is on the search committee to find the next coach.

Seems reasonable given Archie's legacy and his stature. Less reasonable, however: the calls for Peyton Manning to succeed Nutt. But that hasn't stopped fans from suggesting as much.

"I've gotten about 20 or 25 e-mails from people in that regard," Archie told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I passed that on to Peyton. He said, 'Just tell them that I'm 0-10 as an assistant for Indianapolis.'"

Incidentally, the oh-for-2011 start hasn't slowed Jim Caldwell any. In fact, Caldwell has applauded his team's hard work this year, which hasn't gone over well with owner Jim Irsay. (“We will never accept this kind of chronic losing. It’s an unwelcome visitor, that we will not tolerate,” Irsay said recently via Twitter.)

Manning has missed the 2011 season while he recovers from multiple neck surgeries. But unlike some players who choose to rehab away from the team, Manning has been seen on the sidelines and in the coaches booth during games. He's even helped with the game-planning. And once he's healthy, there's every reason to believe that he'll resuming his playing career. Even if the Colts go winless and draft Andrew Luck.

Meanwhile, Archie's search continues.

"I know a lot of people in football, you get names of possible coaches and you take them down," he said. "We'll turn the names we have over to the search firm and they'll have more names. …

"A proven name (as a head coach) is good," the elder Manning continued. "But at the same time, every head coach out there has been an assistant at one time. So it wouldn't be wise for us to look away from assistants. We're looking at everyone, even in the pro ranks."

Echoing the thoughts of our buddy MDS at PFT.com, we wonder if Jim Caldwell's name is on Archie's list.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Jeff Saturday holds 'stern' players-only meeting

Posted by Will Brinson

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the 0-9 Colts are the worst team in football. They've been outscored 120-24 over their past three games and the only thing Indy fans have left to cheer for is the possibility of landing Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the upcoming draft.

But that doesn't mean the Colts are giving up on 2011 just yet. In fact, in advance of their Week 10 matchup against Jacksonville, center Jeff Saturday held a players-only meeting this week, in which he delivered a "stern" message about the team continuing to give it their all this season.

"I felt like it needed to be said and I said it," Saturday said, via Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star. "I don't want to go into the details of it."

However, rookie tackle Anthony Castonzo provided a little insight into what was said, or, at least, the tone of what was said.

"It was really stern," Castonzo said. "It was like, 'Listen, we're not joking around. We're 0-9 right now.' "

That doesn't mean Saturday was pounding his fist on a table or, um, jumping off a turnbuckle or anything. He just probably delivered the message in a similar way to how he handled lockout updates during the offseason.

"He didn't have to yell. He didn't have to scream," Reggie Wayne said, per The Star. "He didn't have to be 'Macho Man' Randy Savage. He was Jeff Saturday. That's how we took it."


Saturday said that he acquired coach Jim Caldwell's consent to hold the meeting, and it's kind of surprising that Caldwell hasn't used the respected veteran to try and push the players before. (Or not surprising, depending on how you view Caldwell, I guess.)

This Colts team has seven games left in the season to avoid the ignominy of going winless, and just two of the games can really be considered "winnable" -- this weeks' matchup against Jacksonville and Week 17's matchup against ... Jacksonville.

That's not to insult the Jaguars, but they're pretty clearly the worst team on the rest of the Colts schedule. Plus, while Jacksonville's defense is impressive this year, their offense is arguably the worst in the NFL (just behind the Colts!), and if Indy's going to stop anyone from scoring 20-plus points in a game this year, you've gotta think their best chance is against the Jags.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:34 pm
 

Bill Polian doesn't blame Caldwell or Peyton

Caldwell, Polian

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

For those of you who think that the Colts have fallen apart this year because coach Jim Caldwell is doing a lousy job or because Peyton Manning isn’t playing*, there’s at least one Colts official who believes you’re wrong.

That’d be team vice chairman Bill Polian -- who, himself, has come under much criticism for the team’s 0-9 performance this year.

*Somewhere close by, somebody truly believes Manning should be the league MVP this year, and that person is not necessarily incorrect.

Let’s take this point by point.

On the loss of Manning, Polian told NFL.com, “That's like saying New England is too reliant on Tom Brady. You rely on your stars. There's no credence to that theory."

Except for there’s one very easy counter to the Brady argument. Remember when Brady was out for just about all of 2008 with a knee injury? Yeah, his team didn’t go 0-for without him in the lineup. As I recall, New England went 11-5 without its star quarterback and won the AFC East.

On what Caldwell has accomplished in 2011, Polian said, “I think he's done a better job than he did in the Super Bowl year. He didn't have the adversity that year that he had last year and this year. Last year's team wasn't a playoff team, and he not only got it there, but came close to advancing. He's done. And he's done a magnificent job dealing with all the problems."

Is there even a response to that? Did Polian say that with a straight face? I mean, seriously? Caldwell has done a “magnificent job?” Obviously, Polian is in a better position to say that than just about anybody else, but if Caldwell has been magnificent this year, Tony Sparano has been freakin’ Vince Lombardi.

So, what is the problem as seen by Polian -- who, by the way, received a vote of confidence from owner Jim Irsay earlier this month?

"I think it's 70 percent that we're just not playing well, and we need to figure out why and get that fixed," he said. "And then, it's 30 percent talent at certain positions. At defensive tackle, it's injuries. At cornerback, perhaps it's talent, and it's definitely needing better depth. Beyond that, we just need to play better. … (But) I agree with (Bill) Parcells, when he says you are what your record says you are."

On that, I think all of us can agree.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com