Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Jim Caldwell
Posted on: March 29, 2011 11:56 am
 

Offseason Checkup: Indianapolis Colts

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Hot Routes 01.11.11: Polian, Caldwell not jiving?

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Jim Caldwell called a really dumb timeout against the Jets. It might have cost his team a chance to continue advancing in the playoffs. But Bill Polian doesn't think so, and he called the timeout a "moot point" on his radio show Monday, according to Big Blue Shoe at Stampede Blue. More interesting though -- Polian offered a different reason for the timeout -- he said the defense was trying to get set. That's certainly more rational than Caldwell's "we wanted to make them snap the ball" excuse, but then Polian apparently went off on a tangent about how he thought the Colts were done after Antonio Cromartie's return, barring an interception, fumble or sack. Which, um, well, no -- Nick Folk needed a 50-plus-yard field goal to win before the deep ball to Braylon Edwards. So, yeah, this timeout thing's getting awkward.
  • Speaking of awkward head coaches, Wade Phillips thinks he's probably done as a head coach, because of "perception." Which is actually a good point, because Wade's 82-61 as a head coach, and yet people think he's a goof, mainly because of his 1-5 playoff record. Poor Wade.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 1:01 pm
 

NFL Wild Card Podcast Review

Posted by Will Brinson

This past weekend was one of most exciting wild-card weekends in NFL history.

But was it the most exciting? That's one of the questions Andy and I answer in this week's podcast review. We also debate whether or not Seattle fans should be sending such vitriolic emails, where Marshawn Lynch's powerful scamper ranks in the pantheon of all-time single runs, just how impressive Dom Capers' defense was Sunday, whether Jim Caldwell's seat should be hot, how clutch Mark Sanchez really is, and whether or not we should have seen the Ravens pummeling of the Chiefs coming.

All that (plus much,  much more) -- just hit the play button below and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Posted on: January 9, 2011 3:52 pm
 

For Peyton's sake, Colts should dump Caldwell

Posted by Will Brinson

Saturday night, our own Gregg Doyel wrote a column about the stupidity of Jim Caldwell calling a timeout with 30 seconds left in a game that saw Indy fall to New York 17-16. The premise being that he allowed second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez to regroup, the Jets to gameplan for a big gain, and Nick Folk to attempt a much easier field goal. The premise, by the way, is correct.

And while it seems really difficult to call for a coach's head when he was two wins away from a perfect season/Super Bowl combo in 2009 and won a divisional championship in 2010, it might be time to think about getting rid of Jim Caldwell.

Why? Well, it ties in with a great argument that the guys on the mothership had during The NFL Today about whether or not Peyton Manning can win another Super Bowl in his career:



This is relevant because the Colts will always be dangerous as long as Peyton's on the field. They'll have a chance at winning the AFC South with Peyton and they'll have a shot at the Super Bowl with Peyton. But it's also going to take a much stouter defense (one that doesn't get utterly dominated by the run, a la the second half against the Jets on Saturday) to bump up the odds that Peyton retires with multiple titles.

And Caldwell, who was Manning's quarterbacks coach before replacing Tony Dungy as head coach, simply doesn't bring a defensive presence. Look, you can't argue with his record and the success the Colts have had the last two years, except for Super Bowl wins (zero, but, yes, that's a tough argument).

You can, however, argue that Caldwell serves, at best, as a figurehead for the organization. Peyton Manning calls his own plays; you don't have to be an insider to realize that. And a new coach, particularly one who's defensive-minded, probably wouldn't have a huge issue stepping into Caldwell's role with Indy, beefing up the Colts' defensive scheme, and letting Manning do whatever he wants to do on the offensive end.

It would be awkward as hell, sure, to let Caldwell go given his resume. But time is running shorter for the Colts when it comes to Peyton's career. And since they're about to invest possibly the biggest contract in NFL history in him for the duration of his quarterbacking years, there just so happen to be a lot of very impressive defensive guys (Rob Ryan, Perry Fewell, Ron Rivera or even John Fox) on the market as possible head coaches.

Speaking strictly from an objective point of view, it makes a lot of sense to at least discuss the options that might be available.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: January 9, 2011 12:19 am
 

Jets-Pats III promises to build on great playoffs

Posted by Will Brinson

Peyton Manning marched down the field and Adam Vinatieri kicked a clutch 50-yard field goal to put the Colts up two points with 53 seconds left and a somewhat shaky Mark Sanchez needing to march the field for the Jets to win.

You'd think that would have been the end of that, but, somehow, Antonio Cromartie broke a big return, Braylon Edwards made a big catch, Sanchez hit some big throws and Rex Ryan finally got the Manning version of a monkey off his back.

There will be obligatory columns about Peyton Manning's legacy: after all, he's only 9-10 in the postseason. Seven of 11 times since making the playoffs, he's gone one-and-done. He piles up stats, but his team doesn't always win.

"Well I tell you what, it feels awesome, because this is a playoff and we're moving on," Ryan said. "The guy's the best there is and he almost did it to us again coming back, but our offense had to pick up the defense again and that's how we played all year.

It was a dogfight and we knew it would be coming here and playing against Peyton Manning and the Colts. But man, what a great feeling. What an amazing feeling."

Ryan's got bigger things to worry about than beating Peyton, of course -- early reports had the Patriots opening as nine-point favorites against the Jets next week in Foxboro.

Thankfully, because of a cornucopia of storylines, this should be one of the most entertaining weeks in the NFL postseason in a while.

Rex Ryan's Foot Fetish still looms (although if anyone wasn't going to talk about it, it's the Patriots). Ryan complained about the Pats running up the score after that recent game.

Recently, he said that Peyton Manning prepares a lot more than Tom Brady. Because, you know, there wasn't already enough reason for the Jets and Pats to really hate each other.



Fortunately, Mark Sanchez actually seemed to take a leap during the second half, meaning Bill Belichick won't completely confound the Jets' offense; whatever simplifications of the playbook Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer busted out worked brilliantly. In the first half, Sanchez looked completely lost and/or injured, as he made a critical goal-line interception and consistently overthrew receivers.

"You gotta tip our hat to our offense -- it was unbelievable," Ryan said about the halftime adjustments. "We totally dominated the second half offensively and on defense we had to hold serve. It was one of those things against Peyton where you're never going to stop him completely but our guys played well enough to get it done and keep him out of the end zone and our offense was just spectacular."

Of course, Sanchez didn't "dominate," but he only threw three incompletions in the second half. That's not as amazing when you consider how much the Jets pounded the ball, consistently piling up yardage, melting the clock, keeping the ball out of Manning's hands and doing what they do best: ground-and-pound.

That simplistic style of football won't be the basis for a ridiculous over-hyped week of media discussion about Jets-Pats III (a treat even though Manning's out of the playoffs and seeing he and Brady square off is always fun), but if Ryan's crew can keep balling the way they did in the second half Saturday, the football will be as entertaining as the sideshow.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 25, 2010 3:01 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2010 3:03 pm
 

Hot Routes 12.25.10: Christmas edition



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- After missing practice Wednesday with flu-like symptoms, Patriots QB Tom Brady said the absence hasn’t affected his preparation for Sunday’s game vs. the Bills.

- An interesting column here by the L.A. Times’ Sam Farmer, via the Baltimore Sun, which discusses the effectiveness of players-only meetings. They might not be quite as helpful as you would imagine.

- Newsflash! It’s going to be cold in Cincinnati this weekend. The Chargers will simply have to adjust.

- Don’t go uttering the word “playoffs” if you happen to find yourself in Chiefs headquarters. That word has officially been banned.

- The spirit of gift-giving lives inside the Dolphins locker room.

- Redskins DE Kedric Golston is done for the season because of elbow and groin injuries. Golston is kind of like a poor man’s Albert Haynesworth (compared to Haynesworth, though, we’re all poor men), except that Golston actually plays hard and plays well for his team. So, maybe Albert Haynesworth should be reclassified as a poor man’s Kedric Golston.

- A cool story about Colts coach Jim Caldwell and Raiders owner Al Davis and about the kindness of the latter to the former.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:58 am
 

Five Questions (or More) with Mike Gottfried

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Bill Gottfried was a longtime college football coach (for a combined 12 seasons, he was the head coach at Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Pitt with a combined record of 75-56-4), and since he hung up the whistle for good, he’s kept involved in the game. He was a TV analyst for many years at ESPN, but he’s also turned to helping boys who are growing up without fathers.

A decade ago, he started Team Focus, a program that helps provide those fatherless children with the skills of life and provides them with a long-term mentor. Three years ago, he wrote a book called Coaches Challenge: Faith, Football and Filling the Father Gap.

Now, he’s back with his second literary offering, Wisdom From Winners. In that work, he talks to coaches – including Houston’s Gary Kubiak, Indianapolis’ Jim Caldwell, former Atlanta coach June Jones and former Dolphins QB Bob Griese – about the nuggets of wisdom they’ve learned in their lives.

We caught up with Gottfried, who now lives in Mobile, this week to talk about Team Focus, his former NFL aspirations and his new book.

Previous Five Questions or More:

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports: I know you wrote a book a few years ago about kids with no fathers, but tell me about this book idea and where it came from.

Mike Gottfried: I was riding on an airplane with Mark Harris, a singer-songwriter. He lives in Mobile. We were coming back and he said, “Of all the people you know, why don’t you write a book on legacies?” I said, “Well, maybe someday.” I went back and that’s about the time (former NFL coach) Sid (Gillman) died. Bill Walsh died a little bit later, and I got to thinking that with those boys I’m working with, they’re not ever going to meet a Sid Gillman or a Bill Walsh or Pete Rose or John Wooden or Nick Saban or Bobby Bowden. I thought if I could get these people to give a little nugget of influence they got somewhere along the line, I could combine it into a book. I started calling guys and sending out questionnaires.

CBS:
I know Sid died in 2003. How long did it take you to compile this?

Gottfried:
It’s been about seven years. I was real fired up right way, and then I got involved in some other things, and I put it on the backburner. Probably about a year ago, I really got everything accumulated. I took everything and started compiling it.

2. CBS: Most of these coaches are successful at the highest levels of their profession. Do you think they really stop to think about their legacy?

Gottfried: I think you do at different times. You don’t go around every day thinking about it. But when I sent the letter to them and the questionnaire and told them about the boys, they took it serious. They thought, “I do want to be a part of this. I do have something to say.” It became very important to be a part of it.

CBS: How did you get involved with Team Focus?

Gottfried: My father died when I was 11. I felt the loss of a father and I kept a lot of things inside me. I didn’t have a lot of people to ask, “How do I do this?” I grew up in a small town where the people really kind of helped raise us. They would encourage me and my brothers. I knew that played a big part in getting me where I’m supposed to be.

CBS: Were a lot of the coaches you talked to in this same scenario – maybe not a father dying but having to overcome long odds to get to where they are now?

Gottfried: Many of them. Bob Griese is one that comes to mind. His dad died when he was 10. Coaches, teachers and Little League helped him, because he was struggling. I think there a lot of guys that know the importance of coaching and the importance of being a mentor in somebody’s life. They were so interested in helping and getting out the nuggets that people taught them. That was a really encouraging.

3. CBS:
It’s interesting you say that. I always tend to think the mentoring coaches are more those guys in high school and in college. But I remember watching the TV show Hard Knocks last year, and Marvin Lewis spent time mentoring Chad Ochocinco in the world of banking and saving money. Here’s a guy who’s grown up and in his 30s, and still, Lewis is mentoring him about life. But I guess that’s why people get into coaching when they first start out.

Gottfried:
Without a doubt. So many guys I saw come to schools I was at – Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Pittsburgh – I would see things in them that if you just would work with them, they really could be polished in those areas. Some of them were real shy and didn’t want to speak. We talked to them about speaking, and with some of these young boys, we put them on camera so they could see how they looked to other people. All those things you take for granted if you’ve grown up with a father. But growing up with a father who’s absent, they don’t learn it. It’s missing. If you can help them be complete, that’s coaching.

4. CBS:
When you were coaching college, did you ever have the desire to go to the NFL?

Gottfried: I had some chances to go in the NFL after I got fired in Pittsburgh. I got into TV, and I wanted to go back. One year, I had a chance with the Browns, one year with the 49ers. I talked to Bill Walsh, and he talked about going back to Tampa and I talked to him about that. Then he decided not to go back. But I thought about it a lot.

5. CBS:
Following the stroke you had a couple years ago, is the TV career over? Is that something you can get back into?

Gottfried:
Right now what I want to do is focus on trying to raise money and reach more boys with Team Focus.

CBS:
That must be satisfying experience.

Gottfried:
It really is. I’ve seen guys when we statted 10 or 11 years ago and now we see so many young men, so many serving in Afghanistan and in Iraq, so many in college, working in business, and leading all kind of different lives. When you see a picture of them from 2002 and you see this little guy in the first row and you know where he’s at today, it’s pretty rewarding.

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

Posted on: November 8, 2010 3:03 am
Edited on: November 8, 2010 3:27 am
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 9

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) The common sense approach for Jerry Jones

Out of principle, I’ve been trying to avoid Dallas Cowboy stories at all costs these past few weeks. I’ve also been buying into the idea of keeping Wade Phillips around for the remainder of the season just because, well, the Collective Bargaining Agreement issues do W. Phillips (US Presswire)complicate matters, and promoting someone from Phillips’ staff to the top position on an interim basis doesn’t pack much punch.

But what happened in Green Bay can’t be ignored. Thus, I’m writing a Cowboys story – an opinionated Cowboys story – that should cover the thousands of other Cowboys stories you’ll read this week. Here it goes:

It would be wrong to say the Cowboys quit Sunday night, as “quitting” would imply they actually got started at some point. The problems for this team are as numerous as they are obvious. Based on the way Jon Kitna seems to be received by teammates, you’d swear Dallas’ 52 other players are all atheists. The only way Kitna could be ignored any further is if Andre Gurode simply stopped snapping him the ball. Beyond Kitna, the running backs appear to be forbidden from pass blocking. The only time Dallas’ defense looks the least bit complex in the presnap phase is when a linebacker or safety lines up in the wrong spot. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has been particularly awful all season, though at least he hasn’t mortgaged his heart and self respect the way Mike Jenkins has (what kind of tackling effort was that on the James Jones touchdown???).

We could go on forever, but the point is, this team has crossed the threshold of pathetic, and because of that, Jerry Jones needs to fire Phillips. Yes, a head coaching change at this point is complicated, but I’ll take complicated over helpless any day. For the rest of this season, replace Phillips with Dave Campo, a fiery motivator with some head coaching experience. Don’t promote Jason Garrett – he may be just as big a part of the problem. Over these next eight games the former NFL backup quarterback needs to prove he’s still worthy of being an offensive coordinator in this league. The overly-simplistic system, lack of identity in the ground game and inconsistency of key players suggest he’s not. (By the way, have we ever seen a hot young head coaching candidate cool as quickly as Garrett? Those two 6-2 teams playing this Thursday night were both turned down by Garrett at one point.)

The second the game clock reads 0:00 in Week 17, Jones needs to offer a contract to Bill Cowher. Cris Collinsworth made a great point during the broadcast: when the Cowboys have had a no-nonsense disciplinarian head coach (i.e. Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells), they’ve prospered; when they’ve had a “players’ coach”, they’ve floundered. Go get Cowher. He’ll instill toughness, he runs a 3-4 scheme and, though maybe not a top echelon personnel guy the way Johnson and Parcells were, he’ll ultimately improve the roster.

Cowher wants to coach; it’s amazing he’s still available after four years. Jones got lucky there. If for some reason Cowher is hesitant to get back in, Jones should offer him $10-12 million a season. He should be willing to give up part of his power, too. Sure, if there’s a lockout, Cowher may not get to instill his modus operandi on the team until August, which would be a problem. But that problem pales in comparison to the one that is the status quo.



2.) Childress sets a new standard for buzz kill
B. Favre (US Presswire)
We’ve all made a joke that falls painfully flat. It’s a terrible feeling. The ensuing silence makes the air around you feel thick, and when you try to backtrack or play it off, the nightmare only intensifies. No matter what your politics, in that moment you find yourself marveling at the courage it must take for someone like Vice President Joe Biden to face the world every day.

Biden at least specializes in the foot-in-mouth variety of failed jokes. That’s the harmless kind. The other kind of failed joke is the one that derives from spite and pettiness. The room falls silent on these jokes because everyone knows that there is an uncomfortable hint of truth behind it. That’s what happened when Brad Childress said in his postgame press conference, “I'm not going to stand here like Brett Favre and tell you I need compassion, I need a hug. I'm all right."

(Crickets)

Why – why?! – say that? Now, instead of talking about how Favre threw for a career-high 446 yards and led an incredible two-touchdown comeback in the final four minutes against Arizona, we’re talking about how the quarterback and head coach still don’t like each other.

And it’s not just the Favre storyline that takes a backseat. Percy Harvin played on a bad ankle and was fantastic (nine catches, 126 yards). Adrian Peterson (15 carries, 81 yards and a touchdown, plus four catches, 63 yards and another touchdown) showed late in the game why he has reclaimed his spot as the league’s best running back. Jared Allen, with 2.5 sacks and six hits on Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson, quieted all his naysayers (which even those naysayers were glad about, considering everyone agrees that Allen is a great guy and fun to root for). If the Vikings beat the Bears next week, they’ll welcome the Packers to the Metrodome in Week 11 with a chance to get within one game in the NFC North.

THESE are the storylines that should be highlighted this week. But thanks to Chilly’s chill-hearted joke, we get another week of drama in Minnesota.

3.) What the Hillis happened in Cleveland?

You wonder if the Trap Game is simply a law of nature. If any team would be immune to it, it’d be the Patriots. But sure enough, with showdowns against the Steelers and Colts on the horizon, Bill Belichick’s team came out flat as board Sunday in Cleveland. It was apparent right from the start that the Trap Game law was in affect. Trailing 3-0, rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski signaled for a fair catch on the ensuring kickoff, then, for some reason, though “eh, never mind”, and let the ball bounce to the turf. After a scrum, the Browns came away with possession, leaving a short field for football’s new giant-killer, Colt McCoy (actually, the tongue is not ALL THE WAY in cheek calling McCoy a “giant killer”, considering that the rookie is 2-1 as a starter and has beaten the Patriots and Saints).

New England’s socialistic ball control offense never came close to mustering enough firepower for a comeback. The story of the day, however, was on the other side of the ball. Fullback turned tailback Peyton Hillis rushed for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. He also caught three passes for 36 yards. By now, you’ve probably heard about eight or nine different people refer to the 240-pounder from Arkansas as a battering ram. Indeed, Hillis seems to perk up at the point of contact.

The Browns have a meat and potatoes offense and, thanks in large part to Rob Ryan, one of the best-coached defenses in the NFL. The talk about Eric Mangini getting fired is clearly preemptive. Credit Mike Holmgren for giving the one-time wundercoach a vote of confidence over the past several months. Mangini is capitalizing on the tough lessons he learned early in his career.



4.) Poor BillsR. Fitzpatrick (US Presswire)


It’s hard to feel sorry for a professional football team, but goodness, how can you not want to see the Bills get off the snide? After back-to-back overtime losses, Chan Gailey’s club went to Canada to clear its mind and play before a crowd that, we’re guessing, literally does not know how to boo. (By the way, only 50,746 people showed up for the game, which is fine with the Bills, as they’ve already been paid $78 million for the whole Canadian home games arrangement. The Rogers Communications executives, on the other hand, aren’t thrilled with the low attendance, though they recently said they’d like to extend the deal past 2012. In fact, they might even try to negotiate with the Buffalo community an even split for Bills home games, which means the Bills would become the divorce children of the NFL.)

Aside from two interceptions and a few ground balls, Ryan Fitzpatrick played well Sunday. So did his new favorite receiver, Steve Johnson. The third-year pro from Kentucky surprisingly won the starting job opposite Lee Evans in training camp. After catching 11 passes for 145 yards against the Bears, Johnson leads the Bills with 30 receptions for 409 yards on the season. He’s a humble, try-hard guy, which makes him an embodiment of this entire club.

But this is still a club that fell three points short Sunday. Since a city change didn’t do the trick for the Bills, how about a temporary name change? Given this team’s heart and tenacity, I propose the Buffalo Anti-Cowboys.



5.) Charlie Whitehurst makes his debut; quarterback controversy in Seattle?


Hahaha, uh, no. Let’s move on.



6.) Colts-Eagles…..annoying?

The Colts are 5-3. The Eagles are 5-3. The Eagles just beat the Colts. That means the Eagles should be above the Colts in the power rankings, right? Sure – whatever, we can have that debate later in the week.

Regarding Sunday’s Colts-Eagles game itself, I can’t get over how maddeningly choppy this game was. Did anyone else notice the utter lack of rhythm? It was one of those games where you have to keep checking the top of your television screen because you can’t remember what the score is and you have absolutely no idea how much time is left in the quaA. Collie (US Presswire)rter.

Forget trying to sort out what, exactly , happened in this game – at the end of it, all I could think about was how pissed off the hardcore 60 Minutes fans must have been. The 60 Minutes announcement – you know, the “For those of you expecting to see 60 Minutes, you’re watching the NFL on CBS. 60 Minutes will be seen in its entirety immediately following this game, except on the West Coast, where it can be seen at its regularly scheduled time” – is something we’ve all come to associate with the ending of what are usually exciting games But when Jim Nantz read the CBS announcement during this game, there was still 13:47 left in the fourth quarter. Thus, the 15 million or so people who plan their Sunday evenings around the news magazine program had to wait 40 minutes for their show. And you know the type of person who is hardcore 60 Minutes fan is also the type of person who thinks football is a ridiculous waste of time. Those people had to be seething waiting for this choppy game to end.

Why was this game so choppy? For one, it was loaded with injuries, including a scary one for Colts receiver Austin Collie that delayed the action for several minutes. (More on this shortly.) Two, the game began with a 62-yard run by LeSean McCoy and an interception by Asante Samuel. This gave the Eagles 10 quick points, which many people did not notice because a couple of the early window games were still finishing up. Thus, when you finally got into watching the game, you instantly felt behind. Finally, Peyton Manning was brilliant at times, but he threw 21 incompletions. That’s a lot of clock stoppages.

If you were to go back and edit out some of the commercials and obnoxious (and scary) injuries from this game, you’d see that it was actually a pretty good contest. A few key notes:

***Michael Vick was every bit as superb as his numbers suggest. Vick was 17/29 for 218 yards and a touchdown, along with 74 yards and another touchdown on 10 runs. You forget how much more fun football is when Number 7 is a star.

***The Eagles were able to get pressure on Manning, sacking him three times and forcing him to redefine his pocket on several occasions.

***Jacob Tamme will be claimed in every fantasy football league across America this week (if he wasn’t already). Dallas Clark’s replacement posted Dallas Clark-like numbers Sunday: 11 catches, 108 yards and a touchdown. The surprisingly-lithe third-year pro was targeted 17 times.

***Jim Caldwell made a mistake in the way he utilized his timeouts on Philly’s final drive. Caldwell should have used his first timeout after DeSean Jackson’s 11-yard run on the drive’s first play. Instead, Caldwell used his timeout after Philly’s next first down play. His thinking was, he’d then still have a timeout to use after the second down play and third down play. That’s exactly what happened, so all was well. But Caldwell still should have used his timeout right away. If you need to save clock, then start saving clock ASAP. If Indy had, say, recovered a Philly fumble on the second down play, they would have had 40 seconds more left on the clock. The odds of that scenario playing out are small, yes, but they’re still greater than zero.

***Regarding the hit on Austin Collie, it’s understandable that the Eagles disagreed with the personal foul call. It wasn’t a helmet-to-helmet shot, and it’s debatable whether Collie was even defenseless anyway. That said, some of the Eagles could have shown more respect in arguing the call while Collie was still down. Upon seeing the replay on the big board, Asante Samuel jumped up and down and actually ran around Collie’s motionless body on his way to getting in an official’s face. Come on, Asante.



7.) Indy’s uniformsP. Manning (US Presswire)

Jim Nantz noted that the Colts wore throwback uniforms for only the second time in franchise history. It’s kind of hard to wear throwbacks when your current uniforms are basically already throwbacks. It doesn’t get much blander that then blue and white in Indianapolis. Given that they employ the most marketable player in the league, it’s actually amazing the Colts have not done some modern redesign to their jersey and brand. Yes, the horseshoe logo and understated color scheme has tradition, but most of that tradition is tied up in Baltimore. (And the people of Baltimore hate the Colts anyway.)

The only other time the Colts have worn throwbacks was Thanksgiving ’04 at Detroit. Those uniforms were basically the same as the modern unis, except that the white helmet had the horseshoe on the back, not the side. The significance here is that those helmets were white. On Sunday, Indy’s helmets were blue. Why does that matter? Because, ostensibly, this marked the first time in Peyton Manning’s entire football career that he took the field for a meaningful contest in a helmet that wasn’t white. Manning has worn a white helmet as a Colt. He wore a white helmet at Tennessee, and his Isidore Newman high school team wore white helmets. Sunday, he got to wear blue.



8.) No joke by The Bay

The Raiders are for real, given that reality in this case is a solid but not spectacular 5-4 record. Winners of three-straight for the first time since 2002, Oakland held the first-place Chiefs to just 104 yards on the ground. Coming into the game, Kansas City had rushed for over 200 yards in each of its previous three outings.

Fourth-round rookie Jacoby Ford (2010 Scouting Combine best 4.28 forty time) had six catches for 148 yards, including two crucial long grabs late over the middle right in front of Chiefs star corner Brandon Flowers. (Give credit to Jason Campbell, who on both plays showed fantastic pocket poise and accuracy.) Ford also took the second half opening kickoff back 94 yards for Oakland’s first score.

There were plenty of unusual interruptions in this game due to confusion among the officials. Jeff Triplett crews are usually great crews, but every once in a while Triplett and his men will have a few bumbling moments. One hiccup came on the overtime coin toss. The Chiefs called heads and won, but Richard Seymour thought they called tails. This wasn’t nearly as bad as the Jerome Bettis-Phil Luckett ’98 Thanksgiving game, but still, the NFL could put an end to this silly risk of coin toss controversy by having the home team always be heads and the away team always be tails. What’s the point of having players call heads or tails?



9.) Fine, I missed an extra point; so Suh me!
N. Suh (US Presswire)
Do not let anyone tell you that the difference in the Jets-Lions game wound up being Ndamukong Suh’s missed extra point. Football is way too complex for that. If Suh makes that third quarter extra point, the Lions are up 14-10, rather than 13-10, which changes the play-calling and, subtly, the mindset of everyone involved. It would have been a totally different game; who knows how it would have played out?

The difference, or differenceS, in the Lions-Jets game were Matthew Stafford’s shoulder injury (it’s very concerning just how easily that part of his body gets hurt), LaDainian Tomlinson’s six catches for 47 yards (seemingly all of which came at a convenient time for the Jets), Santonio Holmes’ big 52-yard catch-and-run in overtime (amazing how significant one missed tackle can be, huh?) and Darrelle Revis’ All-World performance against Calvin Johnson (the Lions star receiver caught one pass for 13 yards and was targeted just four times).

The Jets have some work to do offensively, but the good teams find ways to win even when they’re not clicking on all cylinders.

10.) Quick Hits

***Sticking with Lions-Jets, I wish someone would force Jahvid Best to change his number. Tiny running backs with explosive speed and quickness shouldn’t wear 44, it just doesn’t look right.

***As expected, the smashmouth Falcons were able to run the ball down the Bucs’ throats all afternoon Sunday. Michael Turner had 24 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

***In his first game back since suffering a week 6 concussion, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson did not look at all eager to stick his nose in there and be physical. Not saying the Falcons have another Bryan Scott situation on their hands (remember Bryan Scott, the rising safety for Atlanta who got a concussion and, for the next year or two, was noticeably afraid of contact?). But Robinson’s lack of aggressiveness was plain to see.

***This seems like a perfect segue into ripping Mike Jenkins one more time for his pathetic tackling effort (or non-effort) on the James Jones touchdown. Seriously Mike. What. Was. THAT?

***Nate Burleson got flagged for celebrating a touchdown by kicking the ball into the stands a few weeks ago. When he scored Sunday, Burleson did a wind up to boot the ball again, only this time he intentionally missed it. Clever. (P.S. Burleson had seven catches for 113 yards this game.)

***How about Ray Rice racking up 97 yards on seven receptions?

***Safety Chris Harris spent some time at linebacker for the Panthers. It’s a little surprising they didn’t try him at quarterback.

***When was the last time we saw two teams score fumble recovery touchdowns on kickoff coverage on the same day? Talk about the ultimate lucky touchdown. The Cardinals got one from Michael Adams and the Packers got one from Nick Collins on a fumble that would have been ruled down by contact if the Cowboys had been able to challenge.

***Hope you enjoyed watching Nick Collins, by the way, because if the NFL is true to its word about cracking down on illegal hits, the Packers safety should be suspended a game for his shot on Roy Williams. That hit was almost as egregious as Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Todd Heap. (True, Meriweather was not suspended, but that was likely only because the hit occurred the week before the NFL issued the harsher punishment for violating the rule.)

***I didn’t watch the Chargers-Texans game, but in seeing the highlights and scanning the box score, it’s looking like I might have to learn how to say the name Seyi Ajirotutu. Dammit all.


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

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com