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Tag:Marvin Harrison
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:53 pm
 

Gonzalez only behind Jerry Rice on all-time list

GonzalezPosted by Josh Katzowitz

During the week, Tony Gonzalez was interviewed by his son for a Sunday pregame show, and during the questioning, Nikko Gonzalez asked him his thoughts about the greatest tight end in history. Tony Gonzalez gave shout-outs to Kellen Winslow Sr., Mike Ditka and John Mackey, but in the end, Gonzalez said he thought he was the best tight end in history.

Statistically, it’s tough to dispute him.

After catching four passes for 52 yards as the Falcons took an 11-point lead into the halftime of the game against the Lions, Gonzalez has passed No. 3 Cris Carter and No. 2 Marvin Harrison as the second-leading pass-catcher of all time.

He’s currently at 1,103 catches. That’s 446 catches behind Jerry Rice but better than anybody else in history. So yeah, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that Gonzalez is the best tight end ever.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 8:59 am
 

Welker wants to stay in New England

WelkerPosted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s no stretch to say that Wes Welker is one of the top receivers in the NFL. His 740 receiving yards leads the league by a whopping 131 yards over the No. 2 Steve Smith, and his league-leading 45 catches through five games puts him on pace for, oh, 297 catches -- which, of course, would be a record (actually, he’s on pace for 144, which also puts him one ahead of Marvin Harrison’s record total of 143 in 2002).

But it’s interesting to think about how Welker would perform if he didn’t play in the Patriots offense and didn’t have a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing passes his way. After all, he didn’t set the league on fire when he played for the Dolphins from 2004-06.

We bring this up because of Welker’s claim that he wants to stay a Patriots player after his contract expires following this season.

“Well, of course I want to stay here, but as of right now, I don’t really think about it," Welker said earlier this week, via the Sporting News. "I think we have a great owner and great coaches and they have put together a model for us to go out there and succeed. Anytime you’re a part of that, it’s a pretty special thing."

Agreed, but you also have to wonder if the Patriots will want to give Welker a huge long-term extension. Before next season, he’ll have turned 31, and though that isn’t the death call for a receiver, the Patriots might not want to make him a four-year commitment either (although he is only making a $2.15 million base salary, which is ridiculous considering his production).

And as we all know, New England isn’t afraid to get rid of a veteran player, no matter how much he’s helped the team, if Bill Belichick thinks he’s outlived his usefulness to the organization.

Obviously, Welker isn’t going to find a better quarterback to play catch with than Tom Brady. He readily admitted that this week when he was asked if he could ever hope to find the same kind of chemistry with another quarterback that he has built with Brady. Welker said, "There’s no way I would."

So, maybe Welker really should try his best to break the record. Because even if the Patriots aren’t interested in retaining his services, there’s no doubt at least half the league would be trying to get his cell phone digits once he becomes a free agent. Even if he’ll lose the chemistry he has with Brady, he’ll get a ton of money instead.

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 3:32 pm
 

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 3, 2011 11:05 pm
 

Mike Wallace wants 2,000 receiving yards

WallacePosted by Josh Katzowitz

Nobody in the history of the NFL has ever recorded 2,000 receiving yards in a season. Not Jerry Rice, who holds the record with 1,858. Not Terrell Owens. Not Tim Brown, Randy Moss or Marvin Harrison.

But that apparently is not going to stop Steelers WR Mike Wallace from planning on breaking that 2,000-yard mark. Sounds crazy, right?* Wallace understands your concerns. But he still believes in himself that he could accomplish something so monumental.

*That’s because it IS crazy.

"I'm not saying that I'm better than any of those guys, but I feel like I'm Mike and I'm my own person," Wallace said, via the Detroit Free Press. "I don't care what Jerry Rice did. I don't care what Randy Moss did."

For the record, in his first two seasons in the league, Wallace has combined for 2,013 receiving yards. His career yards per catch, at 20.3 yards per reception, is pretty darn impressive, but he’d need to record 100 catches this year with that kind of average in order to follow through on his prediction.

Last year, he had 60. So, let me make a brief prediction: it ain't going to happen.

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Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:00 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Reggie Wayne won't hold out for more money

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Earlier this month, Colts defensive end Robert Mathis took to Twitter to deny reports that he would hold out for a new contract once the lockout is resolved.

“Haven’t thought of scheming up a #PayMePlan yet for 3 reasons. (1)18 is up (2) 87 needs his (3)free agents will b addressed b4 me,” Mathis said, later adding "I have every intention on doing my job once the NFL gives us our job back. I never been a locker room cancer & wont start now. #GoColtsDammit."

We bring this up for several reasons. First, Mathis is right, once there's officially a 2011 season, one of the Colts' first priorities will be to give Peyton Manning a bunch of well-deserved money. Because without him Indianapolis is, at best, a six-win team.

Second, Reggie Wayne does "need his" too, but like Mathis, he has no intentions of holding out. Details via the Indianapolis Star
The five-time Pro Bowl selection is in the final year of a six-year, $39 million contract he signed in 2006. He's due a base salary of $5.95 million this season.

That's hardly chump change, but below market value for a player of Wayne's caliber. The average salary of the top 10 receivers in 2010 was $8.65 million. Over the past seven seasons, Wayne leads NFL receivers with 643 receptions and 8,849 yards, and ranks fifth with 58 touchdowns…. Wayne reported for the start of the 2010 training camp, and plans to do likewise later this month. Barring an unforeseen hiccup in the labor process, the Colts are expected to report to Anderson University on July 31 for the start of camp.
"I'm a Colt. What else I'm gonna be?" Wayne said, dismissing a question about a possible camp holdout. "I'm going to go to work. That's what I do.''

As PFT's Michael David Smith notes, despite the Star claiming that Wayne's salary is "below market value," the reality is that he's 33, typically the beginning of the end for NFL wide receivers. "The Colts found out the hard way with Marvin Harrison that giving a big contract to a receiver in his 30s can be a costly mistake," Smith writes.

That's not to say Wayne is over the hill; he's not. In fact, he's vital to what the Colts do offensively. It's just that he's nowhere near as important as their 35-year-old quarterback. And like Mathis, Wayne sounds like he understands that.

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Posted on: December 16, 2010 5:19 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 6:19 pm
 

Did Belichick try to trip Marvin Harrison?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

So, this is kind of weird.

As posted to the Big Lead today, this video appears to show Patriots coach Bill Belichick trying to impede former Colts WR Marvin Harrison as he tried to return to the field during a 2004 game.

See for yourself here:



At first, it looks like Belichick is doing that accidental "I can’t believe we’re trying to pass each other but we still keep bumping into each other" dance AFTER running a few steps to get into Harrison’s path. Then, Belichick turns his back and makes contact with Harrison. Either way, it’s a little strange.

It’s certainly not as damning as the Sal Alosi tape, but still, it makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

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Posted on: December 2, 2010 9:30 am
 

Cris Carter is the key to many WRs' HOF chances

Posted by Andy Benoit

The list of 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2011 class was recently announced. The most important name on that list? Cris Carter. C. Carter (US Presswire)

Wide receiver has become one of the toughest positions for voters to gauge. The NFL has evolved so markedly into a passing league that the receiving statistics from one era to another are almost impossible to evaluate. The same problem applies to quarterbacks, but quarterbacks are much easier to figure because a.) They’re tied more directly to their team’s success; b.) They touch the ball every play and c.) They stay on your television screen after the ball is snapped. A wide receiver, on the other hand, might make important contributions like lifting a coverage, disguising a route or providing backside run-blocking support, but that action often takes place off screen.

The voters’ decision will be overwhelmingly based on numbers. That’s what makes Carter, the longtime Vikings receiver, the key that potentially unlocks the Canton door for a host of wideouts. Carter is third all-time in receptions (1,101), eighth all-time in receiving yards (13,899) and fourth all-time in touchdowns (130). Overall, he was essentially the second best wide receiver of the 1990s. If he doesn’t get in, what hope is there for other prolific wideouts like Tim Brown, Andre Reed or Irving Fryar, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce or Marvin Harrison? All have similar numbers. (Holt, Bruce and Harrison each have a ring, but receivers aren’t judged by titles the way quarterbacks, running backs and, obviously, head coaches are.)

Carter was passed over by Hall of Fame voters last year, but that could have simply been the Jerry Rice effect. This year could be Carter’s best shot at getting in. Of the 25 other semifinalists, only Deion Sanders and likely Marshall Faulk are surefire Yes’.

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Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:19 am
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Not yet HOFers

Fireworks fly during the 2010 Pro Football HOF induction ceremony (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Pro Football Hall of Fame this past Sunday released the names of the 26 semifinalists that could be inducted into the HOF for 2011. Most of the names you know. You’ve watched them play. You’ve watched them win. You’ve watched them etch out fantastic careers.

Last year, you knew guys like Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith were going to make their way into the HOF in their first years of eligibility. These players were some of the best of all time. It was no contest.

But each year, there are certain players or coaches or executives that are left out who deserve to enter the hallowed halls of the … well … Hall. This Top Ten With a Twist isn’t about the players you know who full well will be inducted into next year’s induction class, minus Prime Time. These are the guys who might not, but who probably should be.

10. George Young, executive: I wonder if Young’s enshrinement has been held off because his skills had declined noticeably late in his career (ie. when free agency was introduced to the game in the early 1990s). But there’s no denying that Young was the NFL executive of the year five times and the teams he worked for won three conference titles and one Super Bowl title. For an executive, he was pretty damn important.

9. Jerry Kramer, OG, Packers (1958-68): While he was a very good player in his day – as the three Pro Bowls, five All-Pro selections and the oodles of championships attest – he did the world a favor when he wrote Instant Replay in 1967, giving fans an inside look at what occurs during an NFL season and at coach Vince Lombardi. No, it’s no Ball Four by Jim Bouton (that guy never could get in baseball’s HOF, by the way), but Kramer’s impact on how the fans view the game is an important piece of the NFL’s history.

8. Steve Tasker, WR/ST, Oilers (1985-86), Bills (1986-97): During his 14-year career, Tasker started a total of 15 games. He never had more than 21 catches in a season, and he caught nine touchdown passes. But the fact he’s perhaps the best special teams player ever to compete in the NFL should give him a path to the HOF. He was a 5-foot-9, 180-pound gunner, and he was fast and lethal. He went to the Pro Bowl seven times, and he was named the MVP of the Pro Bowl in 1993. He didn’t make it to the semifinals this year, but that’s not surprising. Special teamers are not given their just due (see No. 1).

7. Andre Reed, WR, Bills (1985-99), Redskins (2000): Reed has gotten caught up in the WR numbers game. He’s been eligible at the same time as Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Art Monk and Cris Carter, and I can see why it’d be tough to select Reed instead of those kinds of receivers. But you have to remember that Reed ranks ninth in career receptions all time and 11th in receiving yards. At some point, he deserves to be enshrined in Canton. Don’t expect it to happen this year, though.

6. Dermontti Dawson, C, Steelers (1988-2000): Simply put, he’s one of the greatest centers of all time. He made the Pro Bowl seven-straight seasons, and with his athletic ability and his knack for getting out in open space and making key blocks for his running backs, he changed the perception of what a center should be. He’ll probably become a finalist for the second time in as many years. One of these days, he should get the welcoming phone call.

5. Cris Carter, WR, Eagles (1987-89), Vikings (1990-2001), Dolphins (2002): Much like Reed, Carter is overshadowed by other receivers. He finished his career as the No. 2 WR (behind Jerry Rice) in receptions and touchdowns. He’s been passed by Marvin Harrison on the receptions list and by Randy Moss and Terrell Owens on the touchdowns list since he retired, but at some point, Carter should be in. It’s actually a little surprising that he’s not in already.

4. Don Coryell, coach: Yes, he wasn’t the originator of today’s modern offense – that’d be a combination of Sid Gillman, Paul Brown and various others – but his Air Coryell teams in the late 1970s to mid 1980s with the Chargers helped innovate the passing game we still see today. He’s already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Now, it’s time for him to join Gillman as the only two coaches to be enshrined in the college and the pro Halls of Fame.

3. Deion Sanders, CB/PR, Falcons (1989-93), 49ers (1994), Cowboys (1995-99), Redskins (2000), Ravens (2004-05) : The reasons why are obvious. Just look at the video below. This is his first year eligible, and there’s little chance he won’t make it in immediately.



2. Ed Sabol, contributor: Enjoy watching NFL Films productions? You like watching the behind-the-scenes spots of the players woofing at each other on the sidelines and your favorite coach’s pregame and postgame speeches? If yes, you can thank Sabol, who helped found NFL Films in the mid-1960s. How differently would we view – and think about – the NFL if Sabol hadn’t been such a visionay? That’s unanswerable of course, but the fact NFL Films plays a big role in an NFL’s viewing experience makes Sabol HOF worthy.

1. Ray Guy, P, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1973-86): Simply put, Guy is the greatest punter in the history of the game. But there are no kickers enshrined in the HOF. That must mean they’re less important than anybody else, right? Well, we all know that’s not true. It’s time to get Guy into the Hall. He deserves it.

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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