Archive for January, 2011
No position more closely resembled a MASH unit for the Indianapolis Colts than safety. Consider that undrafted free agent rookie David Caldwell suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve before having the chance to play in a preseason game. Veteran backup Jamie Silva went down for the season with a torn ACL in the Colts first preseason game — against the San Francisco 49ers. Undrafted rookie free agent Donye’ McCleskey was waived/injured following the same game. After Bob Sanders traversed all of training camp and the preseason completely healthy, he went down with his second torn biceps in an many years in Week 1 against the Houston Texans.
Dependable backup strong safety Melvin Bullitt lasted until Week 4 in Jacksonville where his season ended to a shoulder injury of his own. Undrafted rookie cornerback Brandon King moved to safety to fill-in for the injury depleted unit. His stay lasted only two weeks before a hamstring injury prematurely ended his rookie season. If that list isn’t long enough, the Colts brought in Chip Vaughn, formerly with the New Orleans Saints, hoping to stop the bleeding. After three weeks on the team, along with one tackle, Vaughn’s year ended due to a foot injury. More >
When Bill Parcells became head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, one of his first moves was to do nothing. What he didn’t do was rush in and change the defense from a base 4-3 to the “Parcells” 3-4 defense that helped him win two Super Bowls with the Giants. When Pat Kirwan asked him why, Parcells explained that he didn’t have the right ingredients for the 3-4. He knew it was going to take about two to three seasons before he could acquire the right personnel to run the 3-4, and be successful. So, he patiently ran the 4-3 until 2005 when he acquired the talent necessary for the switch.
Larry Coyer would be wise to sit down with Parcells, because what he is trying to do defensively in Indy isn’t working. The issues on defense go way beyond injuries — at the root of the problem is the fact that the players and the scheme don’t match up. More >
Linebacker has been a position of weakness for the Colts for many years. Other than Gary Brackett, the last time the Colts had a linebacker worthy of NFL recognition was when former 2002 fourth round draft pick David Thornton left the team following the 2005 season — he signed a lucrative five-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.
In many ways, the fact that the linebackers have not been a major strength is expected with the Colts’ history of refusing to pay veterans at the position after their rookie contracts expire — they did the same with Marcus Washington following the 2003 season, who went on to a Pro Bowl in 2004 and two alternate bids in 2005 and 2006. With a speed-focused defensive philosophy, however, it is reasonable to keep costs low because Colts linebackers are typically not high-profile players to other teams — they are generally too short and too light for other defensive schemes.
These facts and this history makes the Colts current depth chart at linebacker an albatross. While only Gary Brackett has a resume deserving of Pro Bowl consideration over the last three years, the young talent, potential, and depth at each of the linebacker positions is unfamiliar. More >
As the draft approaches and sports fanatics search the internet for the next best mock draft, there is little question Colts fans will read about how terrible the offensive line is, and the work that must be done in the off-season to correct the problem. In the words of my favorite underachieving Indiana football coach, “Not so fast my friend!”
When asked who has the top ranked offensive line in football many would not hesitate to guess Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Philly, or maybe even Oakland, all who rushed for more yards than the Colts. Few would guess the Indianapolis Colts would be in Ludacris’ #1 spot according to the NFL rankings system.
Indianapolis racked up 13 rushing touchdowns — ranking them 12th in the league. The 1,483 rushing yards ranks 29th in the league, but that is also on only 393 attempts which would be the 4th fewest attempts by any team in the league. It must also be noted that the Colts handed the ball to Donald Brown, Javarris James, and Mike Hart — whom have proven absolutely nothing in the NFL — for 210 of those carries, and 37 more of those went to Dominic Rhodes who is on the wrong side of 30. (Colts Nation still loves you though Dominic!) More >
When each season comes to an end, all eyes turn to the upcoming NFL Draft to restock and improve team rosters. Some thought goes into who may or may not be available on the free agent market to upgrade the team, but in Indianapolis most of the free agent attention turns to retaining Colts free agents.
What could make this off-season unique — or very rare — is that the Colts front office may actually look to find some veteran free agent talent to give the roster a boost as they head into the home stretch of Peyton Manning’s career. Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN noted that the Colts still plan to make Peyton Manning the highest paid player in football but indicated that Jim Irsay and Bill Polian have expressed an interest in structuring the contract to allow more free agent signing flexibility:
Sources say team president Bill Polian presented a pitch Thursday that the Colts want more cash flow to build the talent around Manning with a more aggressive offseason that could include a few key free-agent signings. Even though the Colts will remain a franchise that builds around the draft, they have signed just four free agents since Manning signed his last $98 million contract in 2004.
Shortly after Peyton Manning’s last contract was signed, many fans in Indianapolis will remember that the team made a move to reunite defensive tackle Booger McFarland with his former coach Tony Dungy and signed free agent defensive tackle Corey Simon — who unfortunately had a brief tenure with the Colts before retiring. The two players came to the team in different years but their acquisitions signaled that Polian and Irsay are not afraid to pull the trigger when they feel meaningful and productive free agent talent is available. More >
Entering the 2010 season, the Indianapolis Colts faced uncertainty at cornerback.
-2010 third round draft pick Kevin Thomas suffered a season-ending knee-injury during rookie camp.
-Veteran Tim Jennings departed the team and ended up in Chicago.
-The only options behind starters Kelvin Hayden and Jerraud Powers were aging veteran DeShea Townsend (first year in the Colts system), second-year veteran Jacob Lacey, and undrafted free agents Brandon King, Jordan Hemby, and Thad Turner.
As soon as preseason ended, Colts President Bill Polian traded a draft pick to the Washington Redskins for young veteran Justin Tryon. Tryon ended up starting Week 1, and filled in as the most reliable backup corner on the Colts roster for the remainder of the season. More >
With a potential NFL lockout coming, two health-related impacts loom large for players. The first is the possible loss of health care benefits (Patriots’ OL Matt Light raises an excellent non-game-related example of how this affects players personally). The other is that players who are rehabbing from injury will not have access to team facilities beginning March 4. This article looks at who on the Colts’ team this is likely to affect most.
Now that the Colts season is over, Local TV coverage of the Colts is at a premium. As we find player interviews or other Colts coverage, Coltzilla will bring them to you. Hope you enjoy!
Bonus Coverage – Blue Commercial:
Tomorrow, the Green Bay Packers will be in Chicago to take on the Bears in the NFC Championship Game. The media have highlighted the Packers’ long injury list (15 players on IR), and earlier this week Football Outsiders published a games-lost-by-starters statistic showing that the Pack lost a total of 83 starter-games in 2010. The statistic also estimates that the Colts lost 89 starter-games – a significant number to be sure, but not significantly more than the Packers. It’s fair to wonder why the Packers have been able to recover enough from injuries to make it to the NFCCG, while the Colts are watching the rest of the playoffs on TV. This post offers a perspective.