Tag:Charlie Johnson
Posted on: July 4, 2011 9:47 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 9:52 pm
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Colts might have plenty of free agents to sign

ManningPosted by Josh Katzowitz

The biggest worry for the Colts franchise when the lockout ends is the contract of QB Peyton Manning and whether the two sides will agree to a long-term extension. For now, Manning has been franchise-tagged for 2011, though his agent would like to get rid of that designation by dropping it in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But aside from Manning, Indianapolis has plenty of work to get done in order to secure the services of some of its most important free agents, especially if the new CBA allows unrestricted free agency after four years of service.

That means RB Joseph Addai, LB Clint Session, OT Charlie Johnson and S Melvin Bullitt would be eligible to leave.

"As far as me coming back or being gone, I don't know,” Johnson told the Indianapolis Star. “I will just take it as it happens. I'm working out, trying to get better and hoping a deal gets done. But I can't concern myself with 'what ifs' at this point."

Indy's offseason
But Bullitt, taking over Bob Sanders’ old position, definitely wants to return to the Colts.

"I'm probably the strongest I've been in two years," Bullitt said. "I want to play in Indy again. That's what I'm planning on. But the reality is I'm not signed with anyone … I want to finish my career in Indianapolis, but I will have to make a decision quickly."

Returning to Indianapolis seems like a no-brainer for many of these free agents, especially if they can get somewhere close to market value for their services. With Manning running that team, the Colts are always going to be in contention for a Super Bowl.

But if, for some reason, the Colts can’t re-sign Manning, they’ll be in a world of trouble. Not just because they’ll be letting go one of the top quarterbacks of all time, but because without him, it’ll be tougher to convince top-flight free agents to return to a team that would have Curtis Painter at the top of the depth chart.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 11:56 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Indianapolis Colts

Posted by Will Brinson

 

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While the Colts were (*YAWN*) winning their ninth straight division title last year, holding off challenges from, I don’t know, the Jaguars I guess, Indianapolis showed cracks in its foundation that will have to be rectified if the Colts plan to continue dominating the AFC South.

Remember when the Texans upset Indianapolis in the season opener, and we (or at least, I) thought it was a brand new day in that division? Remember when, with the 38-35 loss to the Cowboys in Week 13, we wondered if Indianapolis, 6-6 at the time, would even make the postseason? Well, the Colts corrected themselves to win the final four games of the regular season, winning three of three division contests in the process, to earn the chance to lose to the Jets in the first round of the playoffs.

The Colts, though, no longer seem infallible. They’re, in fact, awfully beatable, and they’ll have to make some corrections this offseason to make it 10-straight championships.



Running game, head coaching questions

The Colts haven’t compiled a top-10 rushing attack since 2001, but that hasn’t stopped them from taking home nine-straight 10-win (or better) seasons since then (for the record, Indianapolis had the No. 7 rushing offense in the league in 2001, but the team finished 6-10). Last year, though, you could see the lack of a top-notch back to bail out QB Peyton Manning when he wasn’t playing well was a real detriment to the team.

The Colts ranked 29th in the run game last season with 92.7 yards per game. Hey, it’s an improvement on 2009 (32nd in the run game with 80.9 yards per game), but still, it’s not good enough.

Regarding Jim Caldwell, is anybody convinced he’s the next coaching legend? His record is outstanding, but the critics would say you could throw any old guy wearing a headset out there and pay him to watch Manning win games for you. I’m not saying those critics are right; I’m just saying it’s something to think about (though it’s not a great thing that owner Jim Irsay had to give him a vote of confidence after the 2010 season).



1. Better quality offensive linemen
This partly ties into the running game, but the Colts are in need of a solid group of guys to protect Manning. C Jeff Saturday is fine anchoring the middle of the line, though he’s in his mid-30s now, and while the line improved late in the season (not that it had anywhere to go but up), a left tackle would be nice so Charlie Johnson could move to the right side of the line. Manning does a nice job of getting the ball off quickly (which is why he doesn’t take many sacks), but you don’t want him taking more hits than he must. Although the Colts hardly ever draft offensive linemen in the early rounds of the draft – Bill Polian just doesn’t do it – this year might not be a bad idea to start.

2. Run-stopping DT
While Fili Moala, in 2010, had a big improvement over his rookie season, the Colts still ranked 25th in run defense. That’s why many mock drafts have Indianapolis selecting Oregon State’s Stephen Paea with the No. 22 pick (Polian also isn’t a fan of taking DTs very high in the draft). There’s little question that DEs Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney don’t have a problem finding the quarterback. But in order for the Colts to make deeper playoff runs – and four times in the past six postseasons, they’ve failed to win a game (the other two times, they made the Super Bowl) – they need somebody who can stop the run.

3. Backup QB
It’s time to stop thinking of Manning as an immortal Superman who rarely makes mistakes and never gets hurt. Instead, Manning was more mistake-prone than usual last year (his 17 interceptions were the most since 2002), and his backup, Curtis Painter, is simply not starting NFL quarterback quality. The problem here is that Manning – who is still a top-five quarterback, for sure – is going to make sooo much money the remainder of his career, Indianapolis probably can’t afford to bring in a quality, start-on-a-dime signal-caller. So, for now, the Colts will continue to pray the 35-year-old Manning doesn’t fall off a cliff (figuratively and literally).



Caldwell took a ton of heat after the Colts playoff loss to the Jets for calling an ill-advised timeout that allowed the Jets to regroup and win the game at the last minute. Sure, he’s 24-8 (2-2 in the postseason) in his two years in Indianapolis, but Caldwell isn’t shown the same respect as his predecessor Tony Dungy (one was the leader of the team, some say, and one is basically a figurehead coach).

On offense, though, Manning is the one running the offense, and how he plays usually is how the Colts go. For now, Indianapolis will be fine, because Manning is still really, really good. But what if he’s not next year? Is Caldwell the guy who can right the ship if everything is going bonkers? Frankly, we don’t know for sure. It shouldn’t matter this year or next (unless Manning gets hurt). But soon enough, that question will be the most relevant one to ask.

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Posted on: November 5, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 10:56 am
 

Key Matchup Week 9: Colts-Eagles QBs vs pass rush

Posted by Andy Benoit


The Colts-Eagles game this Sunday (CBS 4:15 ET) gives us a chance to pull the mask off oneP. Manning (US Presswire) M. Vick (US Presswire)of the greatest farces in the NFL. Thanks to Michael Lewis’ The Blindside, many fans believe you need a dominant left tackle in order to win in today’s NFL. Not true.

The reality is, a great quarterback can overcome just about any pass protection issues. We often think of mobile quarterbacks in this instance. And, obviously, Philadelphia’s Michael Vick is the poster child here. Indeed, early in the season, we heard again and again about how Andy Reid would choose Vick over Kevin Kolb because Vick had the athletic ability to evade pass-rushers who would shoot through Philly’s porous offensive line. This thinking is certainly logical (we’ve all seen Vick make spectacular plays when having to flea the pocket), but it’s also a tad under-baked.

Will Vick’s mobility be important this week against speedy Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? At times, yes. But the Eagles aren’t going to rely on it. Eagles coaches know that left tackle Jason Peters is coming off a knee injury and struggles with pass protection technique. They also know that right tackle Winston Justice does not have the lateral agility to handle Robert Mathis’ dip-move around the edge. Thus, look for the Eagles to employ frequent double-tight end formations, and to align receivers and running backs close to the edge of the front five in order to help chip.

Why would the Eagles help their tackles in protection if they have a quarterback who can simply scramble away from the Colts ends? Because as valuable as scrambling can be, the best way to elude a pass rush is to play with poise in the pocket.

Enter Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Famer runs like he’s wearing ski boots. And his left tackle was a sixth-round pick in 2006 who would be a utility backup on just about any other team. Yet Manning almost never gets sacked. Thank his poise in the pocket.

Poise in the pocket can mean different things. Sometimes it means getting rid of the ball in a hurry. Other times it means holding the ball a split second longer even when your protection is breaking down and you know you’re going to get drilled the second you finish your throw. Often times it means taking a six-inch step forward or a two-foot step to the side in order to subtly elude a pass-rush and give yourself room to operate.

This skill takes outstanding footwork and throwing mechanics. It’s a skill Manning has mastered and one that so many coaches have tried so very hard to instill in Vick. While improved, Vick is still far from masterful in this department. And he does not have the command of Philly’s playbook the way Manning does of Indy’s. It’s this command that allows for Manning’s quick decisions, which allows for the Colts to live with a Trent Cole-on-Charlie Johnson mismatch.

The Eagles don’t have the luxury of simply living with this type of mismatch. Vick takes longer to process information and has rougher mechanics. Thus, he needs a cleaner pocket than Manning. The Eagles can give it to him, but they’ll have to compromise some of his receiving targets. This means fewer weapons for Colts defenders to worry about, which means Colts defenders can now be more deceitful before the snap and more aggressive after it.

As you can see, it’s a domino effect. But the first domino is not actually the left tackle – it’s the quarterback.

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Posted on: September 8, 2010 5:28 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 6:32 pm
 

O-line injuries hurt, but won't kill Colts

Posted by Andy Benoit


The Colts open their season against Mario Williams and the Texans Sunday. Needless to say, it’s a bad week to have injuries at left tackle. But according to the Indianapolis Star, such is the case. Incumbent starting left tackle Charlie Johnson has been battling a right foot injury since early August. His replacement, disappointing former second-round pick Tony Ugoh, is dealing with a toe injury. Colts (US Presswire)

Johnson planned to work out this week, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll play Sunday. He hasn’t been on the field in a month. The Colts generally don’t play guys who don’t practice. Ugoh’s practice status, at this point, is up in the air. The double-whammy with Ugoh’s injury woes is that his absence means Jamey Richard, a modestly-experienced but underwhelming force, will be the starting left guard. The plan heading into this season was for Ugoh to assume the starting left guard duties.

If Johnson and Ugoh are both on the shelf, the Colts will turn to undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach. In that case, you can bet they’ll employ frequent two-tight end formations to provide extra help against Williams.

Veteran center Jeff Saturday is also questionable for Sunday. Saturday is coming off late-summer arthroscopic knee surgery.
A thin offensive line surely makes Peyton Manning’s job more difficult, but the good news is that Manning is still Manning. One of the biggest misconceptions NFL fans hold is that Manning benefits from playing behind a great pass-protecting offensive line. The reality is, Indy’s offensive line is below average; Manning is the reason the Colts have yielded less than 20 sacks in six of the past seven seasons. His quick decision making and pocket mobility (feeling and avoiding the rush, side-stepping pass-rushers) make him nearly “unsackable”.

The fact that Indy’s offensive line is iffy should come as no surprise – the vast majority of Colts blockers entered the league as either late-round draft picks or undrafted rookies.

The Colts may prefer not to have to overcome offensive line problems, but that certainly doesn’t mean they can’t.

UPDATE 6:30 pm ET: The Colts have waived Ugoh.

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Posted on: August 7, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: August 7, 2010 11:41 am
 

Charlie Johnson out, Anthony Gonzalez in

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

A few interesting notes here from Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star .

Starting LT Charlie Johnson was carted off the field during Friday’s second practice, and though the severity of the injury isn’t yet know, coach Jim Caldwell is expected to address it after this morning’s scrimmage.

If Johnson is lost for significant time, that’ll be a big blow to Indianapolis. Especially because the OL has undergone such a renovation since last year, in part because the Colts have been so bad as a run-blocking unit. Johnson is a converted TE, but he’s made a pretty good transition to the offensive line while having to protect Peyton Manning’s blind side.

If Johnson can’t play, Tony Ugoh – who still struggles with his pass-blocking – could move from LG to LT. But then, who would play LG? Jeff Linkenbach and Chris Marinelli are supposedly behind Johnson at LT, but both are rookies. Overall, not a good scene if Johnson has to miss some time.

Also, Wilson writes about WR Anthony Gonzalez – who people seem to forget because of Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. But without Garcon participating in practice Friday, Gonzalez had a chance to shine.

As Wilson writes:

It's just practice, but he looks good. After one of the sideline catches, Manning gave Gonzo a pat after the receiver came back.
If this keeps up, I don't see how the Colts can keep him on the bench. But I still don't have a clue how Reggie Wayne, Garcon, Collie and Gonzo can all get their share of catches. We shall see.


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Posted on: August 6, 2010 8:07 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2010 8:08 pm
 

Colts starting left tackle carted off

Posted by Andy Benoit

Colts starting left tackle Charlie Johnson was carted off the field with an apparent foot injury today, according to the Indianapolis Star's Phillip Wilson. The severity of the injury is unkown. If Johnson - a utility backup masquerading as a starter - is unavailable, the Colts will likely turn to former second-round pick Tony Ugoh.

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