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Tag:Indianapolis Colts
Posted on: September 13, 2010 2:35 am
Edited on: September 13, 2010 2:38 am
 

10 Sunday stories that deserve your attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. The Bears are who we thought they were

For months we’ve been saying that Mike Martz’s system won’t work in Chicago. You can’t ask those mediocre receivers to run slow-developing routes – they just won’t get open consistently, we said. You can’t expect that putrid offensive line to sustain blocks in pass protection long enough for Cutler to take regular seven-stop drops, we said. And Cutler – oh jeez – you can’t ask Cutler to read the entire the field and take chances without making costly mistakes, it’s just not in his DNA (we said). J. Cutler (US Presswire)

Well, after one game, it appears that we were…exactly right.

Sure, Chicago beat Detroit. But teams have beaten Detroit 30 times in just the past two years alone. And had Matthew Stafford not been knocked out prior to halftime, the outcome probably would have been different (the Lions, led by Shaun Hill, scored zero points in the second half). And let’s not forget the controversial Calvin Johnson call at the end.

But all that’s actually beside the point. When the Bears watch the film on Monday, they’ll see an offensive line that gave up four sacks and put Cutler under continuous duress. (Heck, Lions journeyman defensive end Turk McBride – Turk McBride, for crying out loud! – looked like an All-Pro going up against Frank Omiyale in this game.) That same offensive line also failed to help its running backs punch in a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter on four consecutive goal-to-go situations from the one-yard line.

One shudders to think what the Cowboys front seven will do to this group next week…

2. Safety first (if you’re a fan of moronic decisions)

How much disdain must Chan Gailey have for his passing offense to make the ridiculous decision that he made late against the Miami Dolphins? Trailing by three and facing fourth-and-10 on their own one-yard line with under 2:00 to play and two timeouts, the Bills opted not to try to pick up the first down, but instead, to take a safety.

On the surface, taking a safety always seems smart. The reason for this is because it’s such an unconventional move that there’s no way it could ever be as dumb as it sounds (if you explained the concept of taking a safety to someone who never watches football, at some point you’d hear yourself say “and now we’re going to give the other team two points.” Give them two points? What? Why?) In this case, the move was as dumb as it sounds.

The Bills gained nothing in field position by taking the safety because, instead of playing for a field goal (which would mean reaching the 30-yard-line or so), they now had to play for a touchdown (which, Bills fans might not remember these days, would mean reaching the goal-line). Buffalo gave up all their timeouts just to get the ball back with 36 seconds to go at their own 20-yard-line (and had the Dolphins gotten a better punt on the play, the Bills could very well have ended up right back on their goal-line again).

By taking the safety, the Bills were essentially hoping for – nay, planning for – a miracle. Evidently Gailey thought it would take an even bigger miracle for Trent Edwards and those no-name receivers (no-names save for Lee Evans, that is) to gain 10 yards. If you have that little faith in your passing game, you’re officially screwed.

3. Patriots D looks sharp

This was one of those games where the boxscore lies. The boxscore says that Chad Ochocinco caught 12 passes for 159 yards. It says Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 53 yards. (Batman and Robin? More like ROBIN and batman.) The stars may have put up good numbers, but the truth is, the Patriots secondary outplayed the Bengals’ receivers – especially early on, when Cincy wasn’t throwing out of desperation and the Patriots weren’t protecting a huge lead.

New starting defensive backs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung were both outstanding. McCourty, the first-round rookie corner whom some are saying is already the best defensive back on the roster, stifled Owens on several deep balls in the first half. Chung led the team with 16 tackles, many of them vicious hits.

Phil Simms made an excellent point about this young Patriots defense: it’s faster. A lot faster. The Patriots have prioritized speed in recent drafts (except for the selection of linebacker Brandon Spikes, who had to have a sex tape leaked in order to make people forget about something even more embarrassing: his 40-time). On Sunday, that speed translated into more big plays.

Note: In a follow-up to that last parenthetical jab at Spikes, it’s only fair to mention that the second-round rookie was very solid in his starting debut at inside linebacker.

4. Devin Hester no longer a star return artist

Back in 2006 and 2007 when we said Devin Hester had already had a legendary career’s worth of touchdown returns, we didn’t mean Hester should call it a career for touchdown returns. But do you realize Hester has not returned a punt for a score in three years?

Sunday was a sobering example of how far Hester has fallen (by the way, his fall ironically coincides with his promotion to a starting receiver role). Six times, the Lions punted from backed up in their own end zone. On the day, Hester had five punt return opportunities – most of them on line-drive balls he caught in the middle of the field. His total return yards? 17. Three years ago, in a game like this, he would have had 17 touchdowns (don’t worry about the math – he would have found a way; Hester was supernatural back then.)

There’s no reason Hester can’t recapture his magic – he’s only 27. But seriously, what’s going on here?

5. Running backs relevant…sorta

It’s a passing league these days. Bu, like all you misguided fantasy players who don’t realize that your fantasy football scoring system is flawed, we’re going to give the running backs some love.
A. Foster (US Presswire)
For the youngsters, it will have to be tough love. The two electrifyingly speedy first-round rookie runners who were supposed to transform their respective offenses failed to get the wheels turning Sunday. C.J. Spiller ran the ball seven times for six yards against the Dolphins. The only part of Spiller that looked truly fast was his mind, which seemed to be spinning out of control at times. He was unusually hesitant on contact.

In Detroit (and can you believe we’ve now fit three Lions-Bears bits in this entire piece?) Jahvid Best got 14 carries but amassed only 20 yards. At least Best found the end zone two times.

No need to worry about either young runner at this point – it’s only one week, after all. They’ll get better.

On to the love…

There’s especially no need to worry about the runners in the AFC South. Maurice Jones-Drew gained a hearty 98 yards on 23 carries against the Broncos. Facing a speedy but diminutive Colts run defense that has decided it will be porous again this year, Arian Foster, I think, became the NFL’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 2010. (By the way, Colts fans, no need to worry about your team’s run D– last time the Colts were this bad was 2006, when their SUPER BOWL CHAMPION defense ranked 32nd against the run.) Finally, in Tennessee, Chris Johnson posted 142 yards on 27 carries, which, unfortunately, means he’s behind pace for his ridiculous goal of 2,500 yards rushing on the season.

Most important of all, the teams of these three  running backs all won, creating a huge log-jam atop the AFC South.

6. A star is born

There is a new star in the broadcasting world, and his name is Jim Mora Jr. Thank God Jim Mora Sr.’s son never lead the Seahawks to the PLAYOFFS?! Now we get to listen to Mora call games with Dick Stockton and Charles Davis on Fox each week.

Mora made his television debut in the Falcons-Steelers game. He was extremely intelligent and, for a man ostensibly looking to get back into coaching, he was shockingly blunt. Mora’s best line came during a rant about his friend Bruce Arians calling a pass late in the fourth quarter on second-and-five before the two minute warning. “That play-call was a tragedy”, More said. If you get a chance, tune into a Mora game. You’ll be enlightened and entertained.

7. Redskins don’t win…Cowboys lose

The nice thing about fumbling away seven points on a meaningless play to end the first half is that it is such a huge mistake that no other mistake you make can possibly feel that bad. No matter what, as mistakes go, you simply can’t top that one. Though credit the Cowboys for trying. Specifically, credit Alex Barron. The former first-round pick showed everyone why he landed in Dallas in the first place. Barron wracked up multiple penalties in the second half, including the game-loser on the final play. After the clock struck 0:00, Cris Colinsworth cleverly shared a “get well soon” wish for Marc Colombo.
T. Romo (US Presswire)
It’s too bad we’re highlighting Barron’s mistakes because the man was not utterly awful the entire game. Of course, the Cowboys clearly didn’t trust their makeshift front five to begin with. Virtually every pass Tony Romo threw came off a three-step drop. There was a litany of one-step drop throws (until the final two minutes, some people probably wondered if Dez Bryant actually knew how to run routes, as the Cowboys kept throwing smoke screens to the first-round wideout).

Dallas’ offensive line issues will get fixed once Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo are healthy. By the way, all this relates well to our next topic (a bonus topic!)…

7.BONUS. Does preseason matters after all?

Probably not. But it’s worth noting that there were three offenses that looked awful in the preseason: Dallas, Carolina and Chicago. Well, the games count now, but these units still stink. The Dallas offense scored seven points in Week 1. The Carolina offense had five turnovers. The Chicago offense had four turnovers and scored only 19 points against a rebuilding Detroit defense. This isn’t enough evidence to overturn the beloved “preseason doesn’t mean a darn thing” axiom, but the continued struggles of these teams are worth pointing out (which we’re doing here).

8. Lightning strikes, so don’t play football?

The Jaguars-Broncos game was delayed 30 minutes during the third quarter because of lightning. This prompted me to send the following email Greg Aiello, head of the NFL’s public relations department:

Hi Greg, we're going to pose this question in our NFL Facts and Rumors Blog, but thought we'd pose it to you guys first: Why does the NFL stop games because of lightning? All we ever hear is that the odds of getting struck by lightning are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. So why pause a game because of it? Most of the 70,000 fans in attendance can't leave a stadium and get to safe cover that quickly anyway. Is it really worth the major inconvenience? 

(This email was sent after midnight eastern time, so if the league does have a response, it will come after this is published. We’ll throw it up if they send a response.)

9. Problem in Indy?

This is the perfect game for us media folk to blow way out of proportion. The Colts always beat the Texans…until now. The Colts can’t lose when Peyton Manning is on fire…until now. The Texans fit the description of a team on the rise. Etc.

We must be careful not to get carried away about this outcome. But we also must ask the appropriate alarmist question: is Indy’s offensive line a problem? Left tackle Charlie Johnson wound up playing in this game (he’d been out for about a month with a foot injury), but it didn’t matter. Mario Williams dominated far more than his stats (four tackles, one sack) suggest.

And how about this: did you ever in a million years think Peyton Manning would post 40 completions for 433 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a LOSING effort? What the heck do we make of that?

10. Derek Anderson-Larry Fitzgerald woes

So I decided on Sunday around 6:30 ET to write about how Derek Anderson and Larry Fitzgerald were not on the same page – or not even in the same book, for that matter. Obviously, Fitzgerald’s game-winning 21-yard touchdown reception put a dent in that angle. But not a big enough dent to obliterate it.

I still say the Cardinals have a problem with their passing game. Fitzgerald doesn’t trust Anderson right now – nor should he. Anderson’s accuracy issues were evident several times Sunday. Twelve of the 15 passes thrown Fitzgerald’s way fell incomplete. Fitzgerald’s body language reeked of frustration. And all this was against a hapless Rams secondary.

It’s no surprise the Cardinals begged Kurt Warner to come out of retirement a few days ago.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: September 12, 2010 5:26 pm
 

Why the Texans beat the Colts

A. Foster had the best day a RB has ever had in Houston (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Three reasons why Houston opened its season with a 34-24 victory against the Colts.

1. Houston’s running game:
Arian Foster was a stud, rushing 33 times for a club-record 231 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll make you forget the name Steve Slaton (six carries, 29 yards) pretty quickly. Perhaps the most impressive drive Houston ran was the first series of the second half, when they used up about 8 minutes of game clock, handing the ball to Foster. The Colts simply couldn’t stop him. After his final TD of the game, with 1:56 to go, he slammed the ball to the turf. Then, he went to the bench and put on an oxygen mask. He had earned it.

2. The Colts wide receivers: On the surface, their numbers look good. Peyton Manning completed a career-high 40 completions, and Austin Collie (10 catches, 131 yards), Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon recorded at least 75 receiving yards a piece. But Manning was undone early in the game by a bevy of Colts mistakes. His receivers ran the wrong routes, they dropped passes, they fumbled receptions. In the end, Houston made them pay.

3. Houston’s early-game momentum:
The Texans jumped out to a 13-0 lead, and though the Colts answered with 10-straight points, the tone already had been set. This game was so, so important to the Texans, who entered the game 1-15 all time against the Colts. They had suffered through a few close games – a few games they should have won, actually – and they came in confident they weren’t going to let another opportunity to pass them by. Turns out, they didn’t.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:10 pm
 

Data says Cowboys are still America's team

Posted by Andy Benoit

For all of you who hate hearing the Dallas Cowboys referred to as “America’s Team”…sorry, but Nielsen’s numbers seem to back up the epithet. The Cowboys are the most popular team in the United States – by far.
 
Here’s how Nielsen explains its scores:Dallas

The Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index measured all 32 NFL teams in four categories during the 2009 regular season: local team ratings, gross national TV audience, online buzz volume, and monthly unique audiences to official team websites. Teams in each category were assigned a score, with the top rank worth 100 points and each subsequent ranking assigned a lower weighted score based its distance from the top. Final team rankings were calculated using the sum of scores across all four categories, and then indexed with the highest total equaling 100.

The Cowboys were the most-followed team on national television and their website was the most-visited. The Saints were the most popular team on a local television basis (in other words, percentage-wise, fans in New Orleans watched their home team on TV more than fans in any other NFL market watched their home team.)

The overall top 10 most popular teams in the NFL last season were as follows:

1. Cowboys
2. Steelers
3. Giants
4t. Bears
4t. Packers
4t. Vikings
7. Eagles
8t. Colts
8t. Saints
10. Patriots

It shows the power of the NFL that a team from a mid-sized western Pennsylvania market and a team from a tiny Wisconsin market can both rank in the top five in popularity. Also, you may notice that 7 of the top 10 teams last year were from the NFC. Good thing Fox pays more than CBS for broadcast rights (even if that is only a result of the NFC having an overall larger market than the AFC).

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow  @cbssportsnfl   on Twitter   and subscribe to our  RSS Feed .

Posted on: September 9, 2010 12:27 am
 

Hot Routes 9.9.10: AFC Week 1 injury rundown

Posted by Andy Benoit

Filling you in on some of the noteworthy midweek injury news.

Fred Jackson will play after missing the preseason with a hand injury. He’ll wear some sort of protective padding on it (not sure yet exactly what). Jackson just wishes he could be starting.


Channing Crowder has had a mysterious abdomen injury that leaves his status for Sunday up in the air. He hasn’t been practicing. On the brighter side, left tackle Jake Long is good to go.


Hard to find news on Patriot injuries. Hmmm…wonder why that is.

Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb’s status remains up in the air . Webb is coming off a late ’09 season ACL injury.


Charlie Johnson’s health (foot) is a big concern for the Colts at left tackle.


Billy Volek has a minor knee injury, leaving San Diego thin at quarterback for Week 1 .


Shawne Merriman has returned to practice for the first time in three weeks after sitting out with an Achilles injury.


Ryan Clady is back, but Broncos right tackle Ryan Harris missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury .

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow  @cbssportsnfl   on Twitter   and subscribe to our  RSS Feed .

Posted on: September 8, 2010 10:41 pm
 

Podcast: Week 1 early game previews

Posted by Will Brinson

Are you ready for some football? No, seriously, are you?

Because it's football time, people. Less than 24 hours from kickoff.

And that's why Andy Benoit and I are here to run over the Week 1 games with you, doling out helpful information to help you understand who will win, and answering all the important questions about Week 1, like "Is Tampa Bay-Cleveland the worst game of the season?"

So, go ahead. Click the play button. Got a question? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL)

Oh, be a friend and subscribe either by RSS or iTunes below.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Or, make it easy on yourself and  Subscribe via iTunes .


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow  @cbssportsnfl   on Twitter   and subscribe to our  RSS Feed .
Posted on: September 8, 2010 6:27 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 6:35 pm
 

Colts waive former second-rounder Tony Ugoh

Posted by Andy BenoitT. Ugoh (US Presswire)

No need to worry about whether Tony Ugoh will be healthy enough to start in place of injured left tackle Charlie Johnson this Sunday. The Colts have waived the 2007 second-round pick, according to ESPN's Paul Kuharsky.

This marks a rare whiff on a high draft choice for Colts president Bill Polian. After Tarik Glenn suddenly retired in 2007, Polian traded his ’08 first-round pick to move up and select Ugoh early in the second round. Ugoh started immediately and flashed positive signs at left tackle. However, he never responded well to injuries, which was a problem because the injury bug bit him on more than one occasion.

Ugoh lost his starting job last season. This past offseason, the Colts hoped to convert him to guard. However, injuries again limited his development.

Polian will take some criticism for this pick, but you could argue that it’s literally the only high-round selection the football sage has botched since taking over the Colts in 1998.

With Ugoh gone, utility backup Charlie Johnson remains the starting left tackle. If Johnson isn't healthy, undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenbach will get the nod.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Category: NFL
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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:48 am
 

Hot Routes 9.8.10: Well, how big a boy are you?

Posted by Will Brinson

Originally I was going to try and get a full post out of Suh and Larry (via Suh's Twitter account, seen right) and the whole "big boy" thing was aimed at Deuce (see: No. 2 below). Then I realized that it was something the Cable Guy might say and that I definitely don't have 300 words in my brain that revolve around that picture.

We will, however, accept captions in the comments or via twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) , where you may also send tips for the Hot Routes.
  • Deuce Lutui will get loose at right guard for Arizona , despite heavy concerns (literally) about his weight keeping him from performing at an expected level. Said Lutui, it's "not the first time I've been called fat. It's one of those things, as a big boy, you have to live with."
  • My buddy RJ Bell of Pregame.com points out that the Colts are expected to be favored in 15 of their 16 games this year (the lone exception being their game at New England), while the Lions are only expected to be favored in ONE game, when they play the Rams in Week 5 at home. These expectations, remember, don't judge future performance (necessarily) ... just expectations.
  • So, there's apparently a chance that Tim Tebow might not play in Jacksonville, as according to the Denver Post , he and Brady Quinn are still battling it out for the No. 2 quarterback spot. There might be a full-on revolt at Everbank Stadium if that happens.
  • Hue Jackson, the Raiders offensive coordinator, helped get T.J. Houshmandzadeh from Seattle to Baltimore. Weird .
  • Big Blue View takes a look at the 2009 Giants draft class and decides that it might be nice to take a mulligan on that one, even if Hakeem Nicks is pretty talented. Unfortunately, well, you know how mulligans work in the NFL.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com