Tag:Anthony Gonzalez
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 3:32 pm
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Film Room: Colts vs. Browns preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Sometime around Thanksgiving, the Indianapolis Colts will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. By that point, their demise will have been dissected more times than the Roman Empire's. The general consensus will be that the absence of Peyton Manning (neck surgery) did them in.

Is it that simple? Actually, yes. We weren’t kidding all those years when we said this is a 12-win team with Manning and a six-win team without him.

However, many believe that the Manning-less Colts stink because they don’t have a guy audibling them into the perfect play call or throwing darts all over the field. This logic is sensible but also incomplete.
 
Instead of spending the next two months hashing out how bad the Colts are without Manning, and instead of putting up with all the armchair GM’s who crow that the rest of the Colts organization deserves some of the blame because “There are 52 other players on the roster!”, let’s be proactive and understand why, exactly, the loss of Manning dooms one of the most successful franchises in all of professional sports.

Then, we can move on and worry about the NFL’s 31 other teams.

1. Offensive Line Masking
The Colts have long had a below average offensive line. That comes as no surprise, really; with only a few exceptions (mainly at left tackle) Bill Polian has always turned to former sixth-and seventh-rounders or undrafted players to play up front.

That’s largely why Indy has been able to eat the heavy cost of having virtually all long-tenured first-rounders at the skill positions over the years (Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark).

Polian knew he could get away with a sub-par front five because his quarterback is brilliant in getting rid of the ball quickly and moving in the pocket. No quarterback over the years has made better use of the three-step drop than Manning, and no quarterback (aside from maybe Tom Brady) has better footwork in adjusting to pass-rushers.

Consequently, Manning has been sacked an average of only once per game in his 13-year career, which is about half the amount of a normal quarterback. When Manning does take a sack, it’s usually a result of execution, not misdiagnosing a defense. Thus, the hits never surprise him, which is why he almost never fumbles.

Last Sunday, Kerry Collins took three sacks and lost two fumbles.


2. The Run Game
Manning’s pre-snap adjustments did two things for the run game: They ensure that the Colts would always run to the favorable side (Manning decides at the line whether the run will be to the left or to the right) and it means the Colts run the ball out of the same personnel packages and formations from which they throw.

This prevents defenses from tracking Indy’s tendencies. It also creates a constant threat of throwing, which instills an inkling of hesitation in linebackers or safeties dropping into the box (hesitation always makes players jittery, which is partly why Manning’s play-action is so effective).

All of this prevents defenses from loading up and taking advantage of Indy’s undersized and ungifted offensive line. This often saves the Colts; when they’ve gotten away from the run-pass threat (such as in short-yardage situations), their futile ground game always has been exposed.

But now, this threat is gone, and there’s no reliable ground game to fall back on. Joseph Addai is at his best running out of passing sets (think draw plays) and Donald Brown is at his best running against college competition.

3. Helping the wideouts
The best kept secret in all of Indiana last year was that Reggie Wayne was slowing down. The numbers didn’t show it, but the film did. Wayne was not the same downfield threat he once was. He didn’t have the same burst in his redirection or tempo changes. Teams with good cornerbacks stopped rotating safety help to his side of the field. This changed the outlook for Indy’s other route combinations and forced the Colts to throw more underneath and inside.

Manning was able to recognize Wayne’s decline and adjust by either spreading the ball around or hitting Wayne earlier in his routes (when awareness and presnap alignment are more prevalent than physical execution). This is why Wayne’s yards per catch dipped to a career-low 12.2. Hitting a receiver earlier in the route isn’t normally an option, but Manning has uncanny chemistry with his wideouts (Wayne in particular).

This kind of chemistry can’t be replicated – no matter how savvy the hoary Kerry Collins might be. It’s chemistry that derives from a quarterback working with his receivers for several years and offseasons, and, more importantly, from working out of the same system all that time. Over the years the Colts have tailored their system more and more to Manning.

Even if Collins were intimately familiar with Indy’s system (which he’s not), it still wouldn’t click perfectly because it’s a system that’s custom designed for someone else. And, as we’ve already discussed, that someone else has pocket movement skills that 99.9 percent of the world’s other quarterbacks don’t have.

Without Manning’s timing and vision, Colts receivers now have to learn a new definition of "getting open."

4. The defense
The Colts have always had an undersized defense built on speed. It centers around the edge-rushing abilities of the defensive ends. Generally, as long as Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are potent, Indy’s other nine defenders just need to soundly execute basic zone concepts.

A zone-based scheme behind a traditional four-man pass-rush is the type of defense you construct when you plan on playing with a lead. More than that, it’s the type you construct when you plan on playing minimal snaps. The Colts have gotten by with having small linebackers because they’ve had an offense that can consistently sustain drives and allow those small linebackers to always be fresh.

It’s easy to say now that the Colts should have been building a stronger defense in recent years. But the salary cap doesn’t allow for that. Polian probably would have re-signed more linebackers and cornerbacks or brought in more defensive free agents…except he had to pay Manning.

5. Relevance to this week
Indianapolis’ laundry list of limitations may not be as problematic in Week 2 as it will be the rest of the season.

Many pundits peeked at the Browns’ soft early-season schedule and determined that Pat Shurmur’s club would get off to a fast start. But one of the 10,000 or so reasons that pro football is better than college football is that with pro football, you can’t simply look at a schedule and accurately predict what a team’s record will be six weeks down the road. There’s too much talent on every team, and too many dimensions to each matchup.

The Browns are amidst a massive rebuilding project – their fifth one since returning to the NFL, by the way – and might not match up well to Indy’s style. Defensively, Cleveland’s new 4-3 scheme lacks the pass-rushing talent to exploit the Colts’ subpar offensive line. The Browns linebackers also had some trouble identifying underneath route combinations against the Bengals last week – something the Colts, with Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, can surely take advantage of.

Offensively, Pat Shurmur is carefully managing Colt McCoy’s mental workload. Virtually every downfield pass Cleveland attempted in Week 1 came off some sort of play-action or rollout. In play-action and rollouts, the quarterback’s reads are naturally defined, as he only has to scan half the field. It’s a smart tactic, but it will be dicey to execute against the speed of the Colts defensive ends. Look for the Browns to ram the ball with Peyton Hillis. They’ll have to survive with one-dimensionality.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 12:01 am
 

Gonzalez in danger of being a Colts cut

GonzalezPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez caught a combined 94 passes for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns, and while he didn’t seem like he necessarily was on his way to stardom, he was certainly en route to a solid pro career catching passes from Peyton Manning.

But since the 2008 season, he’s suffered back-to-back season-ending knee injuries, and in the past two years, he’s totaled five catches for 68 yards. Now, he’s dealing with a hamstring issue, but he’s also dealing with an even scarier reality.

Gonzalez is in danger of not making the team at all.

"I understand it's a realistic possibility, probably more so this year than ever before," Gonzalez told the Indianapolis Star. “It's just that I've got this little hamstring injury and they tend to linger for receiver.”

The Colts are at 80 players, but they have to get to 53 by Saturday. Gonzalez doesn’t make much money -- he’ll earn $1.1 million in base salary this season if he makes the team -- but if the Colts can’t expect any production from him, there’s not much point continuing to keep him around.

"My No. 1 goal coming into camp was not missing practice or a game,” Gonzalez said. “Obviously, that hasn't happened. That's been pretty disappointing."

It also might cost him a roster spot.

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.9.11: Grossman takes the lead

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Posted by Josh Katzowitz
  • What kinds of consequences will Titans DB Cortland Finnegan have to face after missing practice last weekend because he was unhappy about his contract (and then lying to his fans about it)? Sounds like the team management will forgive, but might not forget.
  • Anthony Gonzalez isn’t exactly sure how many NFL players are taking HGH, but he’s pretty sure that those players are out there, lurking in the shadows. Said the Colts WR to the Indianapolis Star: "How many guys are on it, that's hard to say," Gonzalez said. "It could be 10, it could be a hundred or more; either way, it's too much. But around the league, you see guys on Sunday, and things don't add up; they don't look right. I see guys I saw in college, now they're in the NFL and they look totally different."
  • The relationship between newly-minted HOFer Richard Dent and his former coach, Mike Ditka? Yeah, not too good. Ditka didn’t show for last weekend’s induction ceremonies, and Dent didn’t mention Ditka in his speech.
  • Browns DE Marcus Benard bulked up about 25 pounds during the offseason because he thought that would make him more effective. Funny thing about that. The coaches disagree and want him to lose the weight.
  • As a brief aside, we hit the 10,000th follower on our Twitter feed today. Many, many thanks to those who made it possible.
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Posted on: November 6, 2010 11:50 pm
 

Week 9 injury report analysis Part IV

Posted by Andy Benoit

Colts @ Eagles
D. Jackson (US Presswire)
These days, it’s almost easier to list which Colts players are NOT injured. Actually, there’s only one that needs to be mentioned: Peyton Manning. He’s fine, so the Colts are fine.

Though if you MUST know more details, Anthony Gonzalez went on IR with a knee, but Austin Collie (finger) could be back this week, so it’s all a wash. Joseph Addai (shoulder) is doubtful; Mike Hart is unavaila nble after not practicing on a bad ankle all week. Cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Justin Tryon did not practice either, due to foot injuries (or would it be feet injury?). LB Clint Session, who deserves serious Pro Bowl consideration, was hoping he could fight through a dislocated elbow and fractured forearm, but he’s out Sunday.

The Eagles have Michael Vick 100 percent healthy now that his rib injury has healed. The hope is that Vick’s favorite target, DeSean Jackson, will be able to return from his Week 6 concussion. Jackson practiced and is probable. LT King Dunlap is out with a knee, but fortunately, the man Dunlap was filling in for, Jason Peters, is back from his own knee injury. No Ellis Hobbs (hip) for Philly, which is crucial because he has always killed the Colts as a return man.

Chiefs @ Raiders

Dexter McCluster was limited in practice for the Chiefs with a high ankle sprain. The rookie did not play last week and it would probably behoove the team to be safe and sit him one more game.

Speaking of ankle sprains, Raiders superstar Nnamdi Asomugha has one. He sat out practice all week and is doubtful. It’s actually amazing Asomugha’s status is even that hopeful; on Monday, speculation was he’d miss about a month. Tight end Zach Miller was on crutches during the week and is doubtful (i.e. 99 percent certain to be out) with a foot injury.

Wideouts Louis Murphy (chest) and Chaz Schilens (knee) remain sidelined. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski’s shoulder is still not 100 percent, which is why Jason Campbell gets the nod. Most people believe the hot-handed Campbell should keep the job anyway. This gives us a chance to pass along this tidbit from Mike Tanier, arguably the funniest football expert in the biz:

“Of course, leave it to Oakland to get stage fright after a two-game winning streak: the team was considering benching Jason Campbell in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, generating a quarterback controversy for its own sake. The Raiders ultimately decided to go with Campbell, but have said Gradkowski will return as the starter when healthy. With decisions like these, they’ll be back to punchline status by Thanksgiving.”


Cowboys @ Packers

Does anyone care who plays and doesn’t play for the Cowboys at this point? (Included in that “anyone” are the 53 Cowboys themselves.) Out of principle, we’re going to skip right ahead to the Packers.

For only the second time in a little over six years, the Packers will take the field without wide receiver Donald Driver. The veteran was ineffective the past two games trying to fight through a quad injury. Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett will once again test his injured ankle. RT Mark Tauscher remains questionable with a shoulder injury (first-round rookie Bryan Bulaga has started in place of him the past four weeks). Both starting linemen on the left side, T Chad Clifton (hamstring) and G Daryn Colledge (back), are probable. Despite constantly battling for his job, Colledge actually has a 72-game consecutive starts streak that he’s continuing to build on.

Steelers @ Bengals

DE Aaron Smith (out, triceps) is the only Steeler listed on the injury report. The Bengals’ injury report reads like the first string of the defensive depth chart. S Roy Williams, CB Johnathan Joseph, DT Tank Johnson, LB Keith Rivers, S Chinedum Ndukwe, DE Jonathan Fanene and DE Frostee Rucker are all banged up. Their status for Monday night has not yet been declared.

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Posted on: November 6, 2010 11:47 am
Edited on: November 6, 2010 12:01 pm
 

Colts wideout Anthony Gonzalez done for season

Posted by Andy BenoitA. Gonzalez (US Presswire)

The Indianapolis Colts have placed wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez on injured reserve. Gonzalez injured his knee Monday night against the Texans (ESPN's John Clayton reported that it was a problem with the PCL). He missed practice all week and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia.

This is the second consecutive year that the former first-round pick has been placed on IR with a knee injury. In those two seasons, Gonzalez has caught a total of five passes for 67 yards in three games. In his first two seasons in the league, the Ohio State product had 94 catches for 1,240 yards.

The Colts are not happy about the play in which Gonzalez was injured. It happened when Texans safety Bernard Pollard tackled him out of bounds (Pollard was not flagged nor fined, but ESPN replays showed that the hit, while clean, was clearly too late).

Not to be callous, but the Colts should have no trouble replacing Gonzalez. Slot receiver Austin Collie has been out with a thumb injury, but he practiced twice this week and could return Sunday. Undrafted youngster Blair White has also stepped up at times this season.


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Posted on: October 27, 2010 10:21 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 11:30 am
 

Hot Routes 10.27.10: Jimmy Clausen is a Teletubby

Posted by Will Brinson


Got a link for the Hot Routes? Send it to Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • The Bears haven't scored yet in the third quarter this season. As the Sun-Times notes, this is a pretty big indictment of the halftime work that Lovie Smith and Mike Martz do at halftime. Also an indictment? Lovie's response: "I just think the odds say we're gonna get that part taken care of."
  • Randy Lerner is apparently quite impressed with the work that Mike Holmgren's done since coming to Cleveland, calling him "eager and hungry." Or perhaps he just always hangs out with the walrus in the team cafeteria.
  • The Green Bay Packers lead the NFL in both "players on injured reserve" and "important players on injured reserve." Neither of those are good statistics.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:58 am
Edited on: October 22, 2010 12:14 pm
 

Season over for Dallas Clark

Posted by Andy BenoitD. Clark (US Presswire)

Dallas Clark did not get good news on his injured wrist Thursday. The Indianapolis Colts have announced that the Pro Bowl tight end’s season is over. Clark, hurt Sunday night at Washington, is on Injured Reserve and will undergo surgery.

Needless to say, this is a major blow for the Colts offense. Clark was the driving force behind the passing attack’s versatility. His ability to line up in the slot or on the line of scrimmage dictated mismatches and often prevented defenses from disguising coverages.

Before getting hurt, Clark had 37 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns, all of which put him in the top five of NFL tight ends on the season.

Jacob Tamme is Indy’s No. 2 tight end, though that’s almost irrelevant given his skill set is so vastly different from Clark’s. Fifth-round rookie Brody Eldridge could become more of a factor.

Regardless of who replaces Clark at tight end, expect the Colts to use more three- and four-wide receiver sets. Austin Collie is on the mend recovering from thumb surgery, so former first-round pick Anthony Gonzalez now has a chance to step into the primary slot role.

The Colts have a bye this week then face the Texans on Monday Night in Week 8.


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Posted on: September 26, 2010 10:19 am
 

Hot Routes 09.24.10: where's our dinner, Ocho?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- Chad Ochocinco, as has become his wont, hosted 85 Charlotte diners/strangers at a steakhouse Saturday in Charlotte. One estimate said the bill might have been about $5,500.

- Today will be another big day for Jets CB Antonio Cromartie. With Darrelle Revis out of action, somebody has to be accountable for Dolphins playmaking WR Brandon Marshall. For better or worse, that person will be Cromartie.

- Indianapolis WR Pierre Garcon did not travel with his teammates to Denver today. Along with Anthony Gonzalez, also out for today’s game, the Indianapolis WR corps has taken a big hit.

- Patriots DB Bret Lockett was arrested early Saturday morning outside of a club in Providence and charged with failure to move and disorderly conduct. Good news for New England: Lockett is on IR anyway and isn’t eligible to play this season.

- A nice story here on the hell Dolphins TE Kellen Winslow puts himself through so he can play. One reason he does so: he’s scared of failure.

- A New York Jets fan named Lynda Fowles has a message for Braylon Edwards: smarten up, and next time, call a taxi. The reason Fowles is relevant to this discussion: she’s been paralyzed from the chest down since 1977 after she was in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.

- Starting today in Carolina will be nothing new for QB Jimmy Clausen. He was in a similar situation at Notre Dame – a young QB and a bad team.

- Looks like Tony Dungy finally got around to visiting the Jets. The organization confirmed Dungy met with coach Rex Ryan, but declined to release any other details. Apparently, Dungy will talk about it on TV today. Hopefully, you can contain yourself until then.

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