Tag:Jim Caldwell
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:38 am
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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 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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Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:36 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Second-half predictions

Green Bay is being predicted to win the Super Bowl (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re halfway through the season, and since so few of my preseason predictions will come true (seriously?!? The Rams to win the NFC West? Chris Johnson as the comeback player?), I’ve decided to give it another go in hopes that I don’t have to bring my prediction machine into the shop for a tune-up.

Aside from our new, guaranteed to be true picks (you can also check out our CBS expert chat from Wednesday in that link), I’m going out on a limb with this Top Ten with a Twist and giving you 10 predictions that I know in my heart of hearts WILL happen the rest of the season.

Because the great thing about working for a national website, as opposed to a newspaper that gets filed into the recycling bin as soon as you’re done reading it, is that there’s no way anybody will ever know if your predictions turn out to be crap. Oh, wait …

10. The Bills will fall apart: One of the league’s most surprising teams -- though Fred Jackson says you shouldn’t have been THAT surprised by it -- played perhaps its worst game of the season against the wrong opponent last week, losing to the Jets at home and falling into a tie for first place in the AFC East with the Jets and Patriots. Buffalo has to play both teams once more, and though Buffalo should finish with a winning record, that won’t be enough to finish ahead of New England and New York and make the playoffs.

9. The Lions won’t: Detroit’s success hasn’t been nearly as surprising as Buffalo’s, but the fact Detroit is 6-2 through the first half of the season isn’t something we’re used to seeing. But the Lions are legitimately a playoff team. They’re third in the league in points scored -- that can happen when your former No. 1 pick stays healthy (so far) and your top-notch wide receiver scores touchdowns by the bushel. The Lions, even though Ndamukong Suh hasn’t been at his best, still maintain a top-10 defense. Though the second-half schedule is tough, Detroit has a good chance of knocking off Green Bay (the two teams play twice), and if the Lions can stay ahead of the Bears, one wild card spot will be waiting for them.

8. New England will right the ship: The Patriots, despite losing their past two games and looking bad in the process, should still make the playoffs. So, from that aspect, they’ll be good enough. Just not as good as they usually are. That’s because their defense is a major problem (Albert Haynesworth, you’ll recall, was on the roster for eight weeks), and it’s unclear how New England will fix it. But the offense is good enough to survive the second half of their schedule. They won’t get a first-round bye, and they probably won’t survive wild card weekend. So, the season basically will be an abject failure in New England’s eyes.

7. The Colts will win a game (or two): Indianapolis will not be the second team in NFL history to go 0-for-16 on the year. Already, they’ve lost four games by eight points or less, and yes, even though that 62-7 loss to the Saints was ridiculous, Indianapolis (and quarterback Curtis Painter) is good enough to win at least one. It could happen this week vs. the Jaguars at home or at Jacksonville in Week 17, and a win against the Panthers is not completely out of the question. The point is: a team that plays the Steelers to within three points isn’t the worst team in the history of the league. Even if the Colts are the last winless team in the NFL this season.

Sparano6. Jim Irsay will break Caldwell’s firing on Twitter: Irsay has to be my favorite NFL owner of all time, simply because he gets the power of social media. Sure, most of the time he’s tweeting obscure lyrics from Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut album or pretending to look for Brett Favre in Hattiesburg, Miss., but Caldwell also will be the first owner in history to break the news on his own Twitter account that he’s firing his coach. John Elway has been great on Twitter as well, but Elway also has a boss. That’s not a problem for Irsay.

5. Tony Sparano will last the season: I don’t know if Jim Caldwell will make it to the season’s end with the Colts, but I’m thinking Sparano will do exactly that. The team is still playing hard -- and how about the Dolphins beating the crap out of the Chiefs in Kansas City last week? -- and though the talent is lacking in that organization (how much can be blamed on the departed Bill Parcells?), they still believe in Sparano. If the Dolphins can pull of another couple wins, hopefully owner Stephen Ross will let him last through the season. After the emasculation Ross put him through in the offseason, Sparano deserves that much at least.

4. HGH testing won’t be around in 2011: We told you about a month ago that the NFL’s HGH testing was a go and that it very well could start within that week. That was quickly disputed by the NFLPA -- which claims that nobody has explained to the union exactly how the tests will be conducted -- and here we are, nearly a month later, and nothing has happened. As NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, “We have an agreement to test for HGH. What we don't have an agreement on is the process and the protocol to implement the test.” Considering the glacial pace at which the two sides moved when the 2011 season was at stake, I don’t expect the league to start testing until next season. If then.

3. Carson Palmer will be better than average: That’s not exactly a high bar to jump over, but considering he wasn’t even that in his final seasons for the Bengals, this would be an improvement. Palmer had a rough outing in his first action, replacing Kyle Boller in the second half of the Chiefs game, but he showed some of the Palmer of old, throwing three touchdowns (and three more interceptions) in the loss to the Broncos. Will Palmer be worth the two high-round draft picks the Raiders gave to the Bengals for him? Probably not, but Palmer will keep the Raiders in the playoff hunt.

2. Wade Phillips will save Gary Kubiak’s job: The Texans defensive coordinator is well on his way to doing exactly that for Houston’s head coach. Because, at this very moment, the Texans defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL. You remember what they were last year, right? No. 30. Hiring Phillips might be the best move Kubiak ever made, and Phillips is repaying him by recreating a defense that will lead Houston to the playoffs and keep Kubiak safely employed.

1. Packers will win Super Bowl: I mean, who else is there?

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:36 pm
 

Caldwell applauds effort, Irsay less tolerant

Trying hard isn't enough. At some point the Colts have to win. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Either Jim Caldwell is delusional or out of ideas. Whatever the case, the head coach of the NFL's only winless team this season praised the Colts after their most recent loss for giving their all, fighting hard, keeping their head up and any other variation on the overcoming adversity sports-themed cliches.

“You can see that they are going to fight you until the end,” Caldwell said following Sunday’s game against the Falcons, via to PFT.com. “They’re just going to keep playing and playing extremely hard, but the thing that we have to do is we have to look at our situation and be honest with it, with everybody. The fact that there are some things that we didn’t do well, that’s why we didn’t win. We kind of look at those situations where we turn it over, and where we aren’t effective in terms of our execution.”

We think Caldwell's underselling the bit about "some things we didn't do well." As PFT.com's Michael David Smith points out, Indianapolis lost their last three games by a combined 96 points, and have been outscored by 155 points this season. It's one thing to applaud effort in the face of insurmountable odds when you're talking about the Bad News Bears or Rudy Ruettiger. It's something else entirely when we're talking about professional athletes, many from big-time college programs who are accustomed to winning. There are no underdog stories here.

Apparently, Colts owner Jim Irsay feels similarly. Via Twitter, which seems to be Irsay's primary means of communication these days:

“We will never accept this kind of chronic losing. It’s an unwelcome visitor, that we will not tolerate.”

Last week Irsay was asked about Caldwell's job status and he offered this cryptic explanation: “When it comes to changes and Jim’s status and that sort of thing, it’s something that eight games going forward, more will be revealed. "This situation is always changing. But it’s really going to be always what’s best to give us a chance to win. I don’t have any predictions or any votes of confidence or anything like that. I don’t have any non-votes of confidence. At this point, continuity is a good thing if it makes sense in terms of winning.”

Well, the Colts are 0-9 and you could make a convincing case that continuity is a very bad thing. That said, it sounds like team president Bill Polian, the guy responsible for putting this roster together, doesn't have to worry about losing his job.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: November 4, 2011 11:41 am
 

Colts owner sticks by Jim Caldwell, Bill Polian

Caldwell and Polian are safe for now. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL is a bottom-line business. Acts of kindness away from the field may make the world a better place but losing football will always get you fired. The Indianapolis Colts are currently 0-8, their personnel philosophy turned into a house of cards the moment Peyton Manning was sidelined with a neck injury. Manning has yet to take a snap in 2011 and there's a chance he won't. Two things have come out of this.

First, the Suck for Luck campaign is picking up steam, perhaps aided by the fact that Manning won't play forever, there's nothing wrong with having Luck sit behind Manning for a season or two before taking over, and if the Colts are going down in flames this season they might as well get something for it. Namely: their next franchise quarterback.

Second, questions about whether head coach Jim Caldwell or team president Bill Polian should lose their jobs. A few years ago, dumping Polian would've been unthinkable. But a series of questionable draft picks in recent years (Marlin Jackson, Anothony Gonzalez, Tony Ugoh, Donald Brown and Jerry Hughes are often mentioned), coupled with the team imploding without Manning because there was no capable backup quarterback on the roster doesn't reflect well on Polian.

Owner Jim Irsay spoke to Caldwell's and Polian's future Thursday.

“When it comes to changes and Jim’s status and that sort of thing, it’s something that eight games going forward, more will be revealed," the Colts owner said, according to the Indianapolis Star. "This situation is always changing. But it’s really going to be always what’s best to give us a chance to win. I don’t have any predictions or any votes of confidence or anything like that. I don’t have any non-votes of confidence. At this point, continuity is a good thing if it makes sense in terms of winning.”

We're not sure Irsay could be more vague. It sounds like Caldwell will keep his job … unless he doesn't. The owner added: “I’ll say this: Jim Caldwell did one of the greatest coaching jobs in the last four games last year to get us to 10-6, to get us in a position to have a chance, a game we really thought we had a chance to win at home against the Jets."

Irsay was less cryptic about Polian.


Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons will travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to square off against the struggling Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Who will come out on top? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan take a look at this upcoming matchup.

“I’m committed,” he said. “In [the Polian's] defense, it’s pretty radical after the successes we’ve had to start even talking about the question, in my opinion. If this is five or six years or losing; you’re talking about eight weeks. The great things we’ve done, there has been a tilted sort of perception when you win so much that it’s disappointing."

During last week's Pick-6 Podcast, we spoke to ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith about the Colts and he said this: "If I'm Irsay, I'm calling Caldwell and [the Polians] into my office and asking them 'Why shouldn't I fire you?'"

Seems like a fair question, although the real Irsay apparently has no plans to have that conversation.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:09 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 8

Tebow

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by bodog.com for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

FYI, Tim Tebow, a leader of men, had a big impact on Bodog’s business last week. For good and for bad. Said Richard Gardner, Bodog’s sportsbook manager: "With Tim Tebow playing for the Broncos we saw more action on the Denver this week than we have in a long time.  It will be interesting to see how the bettors treat the Broncos this week against the Lions since Detroit has also become a very publicly bet team this season.  Either way Tebow is good for the game and good for the book, even though he cost us a lot last week."

Just to remind you, last week I said you should go under on Tebow’s O/U of 175.5 passing yards and over on his O/U of 45.5 rushing yards. His totals from last week’s game in Miami: 161 passing and 59 rushing. Just pointing that out.

Will there be another game this regular season with no touchdowns scored? (Last week the Seahawks/Browns game had no touchdowns)     

Yes +115    

No -145    

Do the Browns and Seahawks play each other again? No? Good. I’ll go with No on this one.

Which coach will be fired or resign first?     
    
Jim Caldwell 2/3       

Ken Whisenhunt 2/1       

Steve Spagnuolo 3/1      

I love that they don’t put even put Tony Sparano’s name up there. Like the world would implode before he wasn’t fired by the end of this season; like there’s no reality in this world that Sparano will be employed after this year is finished. I don’t see Whisenhunt and Spagnuolo losing their jobs in the middle of the season, and I don’t really see Caldwell suffering that fate either. But it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, especially if the Colts are sitting at 0-12 and 0-13. So, go with Caldwell. Then, maybe Peyton Manning can become the head coach.

DeMarco Murray -- total rushing yards Week 8?  
        
Over/Under 85½

After the 253-yard ridiculousness he showed last week, Murray is bound to come back to earth this week. He’s also never gained more than 34 rushing yards in any other game during his short career. Although the Cowboys are playing the Eagles, ranked No. 23 in rush defense this year, I’d still go under with Murray.

Will Tim Tebow have another 4th quarter comeback when trailing by 13 or more points in the 2011 regular season?

Yes 10/1     

Obviously, he won’t. But I like the idea of taking the long odds. So, if I were putting money on it, I’d go with yes. Because, as we’ve all learned, anything with Tebow is possible.

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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