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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Manning on cover of SI

I like it.

What's more is that Peter King ends the Manning vs. Brady debate.

And that's part of the beauty of the Super Bowl XLI: we no longer wring our hands over trying to determine the best quarterback in the land. The answer is easy.

Best QB ever

DeMulling cut: good or bad sign?

When the Colts re-signed former Colt Rick DeMulling from Detroit, I thought it made sense. DeMulling had a good career in Indianapolis; fled to Detroit for more money and left Detroit in the end due to poor performance. The Colts acquisition of DeMulling seemed to indicate that DeMulling is like a lot of other NFL players in that he fit really well a specific system. Like the one in Indianapolis.

Today's roster move put that notion to bed; perhaps DeMulling doesn't have it anymore.

Or does he?

He gone.

I think we can view this roster move in a few ways. The first is that DeMulling just can't cut it with the Colts. The talent vs. value decision goes against him because of the younger, cheaper and better players. And that always bodes well for a team like the Colts that always seem to live on "borrowed time" in terms of salary cap doom.

The second is that the Colts need money and roster flexibility to staff other positions. While depth may be a concern at offensive line, depth is more of a concern in other areas and the Colts will take from the line to help elsewhere.

The third is that the offensive line may not be all that great so, in the best interest of player development, it makes sense to play the younger guys in hopes they can get up to speed quickly and provide a longer term benefit (which comes at the detriment of the short term).

I'm no offensive line expert. I base offensive line success on three factors:

1) How much time a QB has to pass (and how frequently a QB gets sacked)
2) How much room RBs have to run
3) If I notice them (the less I notice, the better)

So far the Colts offensive line seems to be passing all the tests; therefore, I am inclined to think that DeMulling just doesn't have it and the Colts are better off with younger talent.

Time will tell.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Can't Wait for Opening Night!

I bought the tickets last week, but I decided to keep it a secret and not talk about it - until I had the tickets in my hands. They came in the mail today. I am going to the Season Opener Game against the New Orleans Saints.

The Final Home Opener in the RCA Dome.
John Mellencamp.
2006 AFC South Banner.
2006 AFC Champions Banner.
2006 Super Bowl Championship Banner.
Drew Brees and Reggie Bush are going to be in town too.

Also, have you seen the promo for this match-up? It's GREAT!

Anyways, I called Zach last week after I bought the tickets online, and asked him to go with me. So, we should have a REALLY FUN TIME that night. I can only imagine how much the Dome is going to rock that night. I'm really excited about being there.

Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, and Hinder are performing at The Circle earlier in the day, so I will probably hang out there until Zach gets off work, and gets downtown. It should be cool, but getting into the Dome as early as possible: That's the most important thing.

The first step towards a Super Bowl repeat: win the division

Forget byes. Forget home field advantage. And forget indoor vs. outdoor. The past two seasons have shown that there is only one thing you need to win the Super Bowl: a playoff berth. And the best was to guarantee a playoff spot is to win the division.

For our beloved Indianapolis Colts, that idea is almost ho-hum as they have won the past four division championships. But this season, Jacksonville and Tennessee are revving up to make legitimate runs for the title. And while we have 10 opponents in common with our division foes, it is the two that we don’t have in common that concerns me most.

Because we won our division last year, we have the lucky opportunity to play against the division winners for the AFC East and North, New England and Baltimore, with respective 2006 records of 12-4 and 13-3. Not an easy feat.

Tennessee, who at 8-8 came in second, will face the Jets (10-6) and the Bengals (8-8), which I don’t think will be an easy task for the Titans. But Jacksonville, who was also 8-8 but came in third, faces Buffalo (7-9) and Pittsburgh (8-8). If the Jaguars and Titans are equally strong (and I think they are), then the Jags have a definite leg up with their schedule.

But both teams also have to face some tough competition with games against New Orleans, San Diego, and Kansas City, not to mention each other twice. Oh, and the World Champion Indianapolis Colts twice.

While not a shoo-in by any stretch of the imagination, I am pretty confident that the Colts will win their fifth consecutive division title. And this is how I see that happening:

1.) Winning at home
The Colts were undefeated at home last year. They are tough at home. And winning 8 there makes it easy to forgive mistakes on the road, where they are likely to happen.

2.) Win at least half the road games
Again, I don’t want to be cocky and expect wins anywhere, I do expect them in two places: Atlanta and Oakland. The Falcons are demoralized. Even though the Vick has pleaded out and the media circus is calming down, the Falcons are done. They built their team on Vick and he’s not there. The Colts will carve those birds on Thanksgiving. And Oakland is a joke. The only way we lose to them is if by week 15 we have won the division and Coach Dungy puts the second string in. But even then, I’d take our 2nd string to their starters any day.

That leaves 2 more wins amongst road games with San Diego, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Carolina, and Houston. Our first two road games are Tennessee and Houston. The Colts will hopefully be strong and healthy and able to take these two. Jacksonville and Carolina are back to back in October. I’d be very happy with one win out of two. And then the question becomes can San Diego and Baltimore repeat the magic of last season? If so, we have some tough matches. Baltimore will be looking for revenge in December, so I’d place my chips on beating San Diego who, with a new head coach, is a team in transition.

So I look for the Colts to match last season’s output of 12 wins. I think that 13 is a realistic number, and 14 isn’t too far fetched. But 12 is enough to win the division, and that is what the focus should be for the seventeen weeks following September 6th.

A thought on banners

I have heard that the Super Bowl Champions banner has already been raised in the Colts practice facility and that it is white, making it stand out amongst all the blue banners. Which is a fine thing indeed.

Seeing the Super Bowl banner hang in the Dome during its sunset year will be a joyous occasion. There are a lot of memories in that building, with more to come. But I’ll get all sentimental later.

Despite my love for the Dome, I’m very excited about moving into the Luke. And with any luck, two Super Bowl banners will be raised in the Luke, not just the XLI.

But when we do raise the Super Bowl banners, I have a request for Irsay and company. Ditch the other banners. Now that we have a Lombardi, why do we need to recognize our Wild Card berths or the years that we fell just short of making the Super Bowl? In my opinion, these are symbols of unfulfilled expectations.

Aside from the Super Bowl banners, the only other banner that I would be okay with is a “Division Champs” banner that indicates the years that this feat occurred.

Otherwise, leave room in the rafters for those Super Bowl banners!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Halftime Thoughts

The starting defense looked good, and they looked good against the Bears. That's a plus. The strip was nice. A couple of tackles for losses were good. INT on Grossman wasn't uncommon - but was nice to see.

The offense looked pretty good. The first series was a bummer, the second series was kind of disappointing that they couldn't get it into the end zone. But, it was nice to see them go for it on 4th down. I know they normally wouldn't do it in the regular season, but it was nice to see them give it a shot.

The onside kick was awesome. And WOW was it CLOSE. His legs were across, and it looked like he caught it when the ball was exactly on the 40 yard line. WOW, I want to think we had it.

What needs the most work?
Still the Special Teams. We gave up a HUGE kick return, and a significant punt return - if Hester didn't trip over his own player, it would have been a TD. That's poor. I think we've focused a lot on our Defense, and we've done a good job - but those special teams just aren't stopping, blocking, and tackling very well AT ALL. When the team starts their drive on our 20 yard line - WE HAVE PROBLEMS. We can't play that way all season.

Gonzalez' catch and move from Sorgi was nice looking. And I was glad to see Sorgi drive us down for a TD.

Now, as the Second Half starts, I'm very disappointed in our second-string defensive players. Most of our starters now, are the second stringers from last year who stepped up. These back ups who are playing for us now - they are not covering very well at all. Griese is finding ALL KINDS of open players!!!

I'm seriously considering getting some tickets to the Season Opener against New Orleans.

Stub Hub has some pretty well priced tickets, and I want to see them drop that Championship Banner!!! We'll see what happens.

Time to pay more attention to the second half...

It's Been Eleven Days

August 9th was the last time we took the field against another team.
Eleven Days later, we're hosting the Chicago Bears.

Let's hope our defense has stepped up a little bit.
It's going to be interesting to see how things go.
According to the Poll on this site, Ugoh's potential is still uncertain. A good number of people seem to like him - and he has made national headlines - however, a fair amount of people have voted against him, and seem to think that someone else could do just as good, or better. I know I will be keeping an eye on him again tonight. Personally, I thought he did an amazing job against DeMarcus Ware. But, the Chicago line is going to be a little different.

Training Camp is over.
We've got a Saturday game, making only five days between games.
Followed by a Sunday game, giving us only six days between games.
So, the rest of the pre-season is probably going to go pretty quickly.

To make things go even faster, after our last pre-season game, we'll be suiting up against the New Orleans Saints six days later as we KICK OFF the 2007 Season, in our beautiful Circle City.

LOTS OF EVENTS going on that day, here in town.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who needs two tickets? Colts v. Lions

I am unable to attend the Colts v. Lions game on Saturday, August 25th.

Please contact me directly if you're interested in my two tickets in Section 338, Row 21. Price and method of transfer are negotiable.

E-mail: worstsportsblogever@gmail.com

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ugoh Makes National Talks

USA Today.com has AN ARTICLE on Tony Ugoh and his potential to be the starting left tackle.

While many of our readers sure don't seem too impressed with him, I loved what I saw. Three plays into the game, my cell phone rang. My buddy Troy and I spent the entire rest of the drive on the phone breaking down exactly what Ugoh was doing right. And despite one person getting by him - because he was trying to block two guys - Ugoh did a great job. And he did a good job on one of the best rushers in the league in DeMarcus Ware. Stopping Ware was a good test of what he could pull off, because Ware is a MONSTER.

You know, I have forgotten how much I loved football season for another reason: The night of the Colts vs. Dallas game, my phone was ringing like crazy and text messages were coming in left and right. I have a good number of friends who are Colts fans, and its fun to get the texts and the phone calls all the time during the game. Although, my non-Colts Fans Friends know that I won't answer their calls during games. I'm looking forward to a long and fun football season.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

More thinking outloud on Tank Johnson

Maybe the whole Tank Johnson as a reclamation project is not so far fetched after all.

In today's Indy Star, we learn than another defensive tackle named Johnson -- this one Ed -- comes out of Penn State with his own history of character issues.

This doesn't mean the Colts will run out and sign Tank immediately. What it does mean, though, is that bringing in a defensive tackle with character issues is not without precedent.

Something to think about.

Is Cris Collinsworth Serious?

Did anyone else watch the halftime show tonight on NBC?

Cris Collinsworth picked five teams who would NOT repeat as Division Champs. In the five years the AFC South has existed, we have won four of the five years - and those four all came in a row.

I just don't understand why he would think this?

Does our defense need some work? YES.

But, it's been pointed out many times this past week, that for a team to beat us, they are still going to have to put 28+ points on the board, because when you've got an offense led by Peyton Manning, you have to score points to win.

Now, this didn't prove true last year in Baltimore. Peyton couldn't do much, but the defense stepped up when they had to. Now, Tony Romo did pick us apart pretty badly. We obviously need some work, but I don't think the guys we lost are going to be that big of an issue. We've still got a good core of guys who have been in our system a couple of years. Its obvious that losing Booger is the biggest blow of the year, but I am putting faith in Irsay, Polian, and Dungy - that they have a plan and will make something happen for us.

And let's not forget last year: Bob Sanders was undefeated. He NEVER lost a game he played in last year. He IS the difference maker, and honestly one of the true MVPs of our team. If he can take it easy these next few weeks, and just physically ready for an entire NFL season, I think we've got a good chance of repeating. It's a LONG road to the University of Phoenix Stadium in February, and A LOT can happen between now and then, but A LOT of good things can happen for us too.

We won't have one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. That's just not how our system works, and its not where the Colts have chosen to put their money (aside from Freeney). But, we will have the best quarterback, and one of the top offenses in most categories. Joseph Addai is getting high rankings as one of the better running backs in the league, and if we chose to utilize him like we did during our play off run, then we are going to have more weapons than just our receivers.

I want to see more of Peyton to Gonzales. I haven't really seen that much. Usually its been Sorgi throwing to him, both in Training Camp and in the game on Thursday night. De De Dorsey looked fairly good, at times, but he also had some nowhere rushes. So, I don't know if he's going to be as good of a one-two punch as Addai and Rhodes were last year. However, with Rhodes getting suspended for four games, we kind of got the better end of him leaving the organization.

My biggest complaint about this off-season was our lack of attempts to get some free agents. I know we don't have a whole lot of money available, but it would have been nice to attempt to pick up a couple someones from somewhere. Get some safeties and some corners that we might be able to offer a little more money to. But, we really didn't do anything. The Colts appear content to bring up players from within the organization and the practice squad. It's a nice theory, let's just hope it pans out. Because it is very obvious that we have issues with our defense. I honestly believe that things will work themselves out, if we pay attention to the right things. We need a new BIG BODY on that front line. That's priority number one. Our corners need a little work. I think we've got some good guys back there. We've got Kelvin Hayden who had one of the interceptions in the Super Bowl. Antoine Bethea had 66 solo tackles in 14 games. Marlin Jackson had 61 solo tackles last season. And both of those guys had an interception.

So, we know our issues. And as fans, we can just hope that they get addressed. I don't want to end up with as poor of a defense as last year. While it turned out to be fine, once the Playoffs started, I really don't want to push our luck. Because it will come back to bite us. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens against the Bears next Monday night. I'll be very interested in Chicago's first drive. I have faith that Peyton will tear apart the Bears (again), it's how this defense will handle the Bears... That's what I want to see next.

So, in closing, I'm really unsure what Cris Collingsworth sees in Jacksonville. Is he serious? I really can't buy it. I don't see any way that the Colts won't win a FIFTH AFC South Title. That's just how we roll. Heck, I'm expecting ANOTHER run at the '72 Dolphins...

Sell your tickets now while you still can, because the Colts won't do crap this year

If I were a national sports writer, or even a local sports writer, I would probably write a headline like the one above. Because getting people worked up sells newspapers and increases cable sports viewership. They throw out "facts" like:

"The Colts defense has lost 247 starters to free agency this year, making them the worst defense in IHSAA."

Which isn't a hard argument to make when you consider that last season the Colts were statistically the worst rush defense in the NFL. So how hard is it to have been the worst in a big category last season and still be considered the worst before the new season even starts?

Offense, on the other hand, has improved in my mind. While we lost Tarik to retirement, our new Eastern European car did a decent job with his debut against the Cowboys.

It may not be sexy, but a Ugoh gets the job done

And we improved in our slot position. I loved Brandon Stokely to death, but I think we'll see more production from Anthony Gonzalez.

I think the major poo-pooing of the Colts has more to do with a national sports bias for the east coast and the continual love given to the Patriots and their can't-do-any-wrong mentality. It's a New York/Boston sports world and I'm just living in it. And I'm not the only one who thinks that.

All I'm saying is despite the hoopla from professional national and local sports dorks, I'm not jumping ship and I hope that you won't either.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thinking outloud ... Tank Johnson as a Colt

Most Colts fans will scoff at the idea of the Colts acquiring Tank Johnson to fill the current void at defensive tackle. Including myself.

And the Colts will probably not entertain this idea because they don't hire proven knuckleheads to play football.

I am reconsidering this possibility for the sake of debate. I heard Chris Mortensen on ESPN Radio while on a Saturday morning run to Wal-Mart; the host asked Chris if we can expect the Colts to call upon Tank to fill Booger MacFarland's void. Of course, my initial thought was that the conversation would go nowhere fast because the Colts value character above talent. Well, you know what? Chris Mortensen didn't dismiss it. In fact, in his view, that door of possibility is wide open.

Can't beat 'em ... join 'em?

Let's think about this. First, Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy share a strong connection. During the playoffs last year, Lovie seemed supportive of Tank when he started to face legal difficulties (or, maybe the desperation to win the Super Bowl made Lovie show compassion ... who knows?). Could Tony have supported Lovie's support of Tank? It is possible. The fact that Lovie and Tony share a strong bond, and the fact that both have a lot of compassion for people ... AND given the fact that Tony has said he might entertain the idea of prison ministry after football ... maybe Tank represents an opportunity for Tony to do God's work, so to speak ... a reclamation project to make Tank a positive contributor to society.

Now use this as a backdrop to the current situation at hand. The current defensive tackle rotation going forward includes Darrell Reid, Dan Klecko, Ed Johnson, Quinn Pitcock, Raheem Brock, Tom Johnson and Ramel Meekins. This might be a stellar rotation once the rookies start to figure out pro football, but it doesn't give me any warm fuzzies when I think about it at this moment (more like an upset stomach).

Couple Tony's compassion and mission as a human being with a enormous skill gap at defensive tackle, and you have a solid business case to hire Tank Johnson.

Again, I seriously doubt Bill Polian will consider this for even a minute because, like I said earlier, he does not hire knuckleheads to play football.

But it does make for interesting debate.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's Game Day!

Flying the Game Day Flag

I know I catch a lot of flack for getting excited about Training Camp and Pre-Season games, but its the start of something. It means the real deal is coming soon. It's getting closer. And while most people don't think that pre-season games mean anything, I think its a good chance to see some of our other guys that we don't typically see.

And with us letting Navarre go, we should see A LOT of Sorgi tonight. I'm only expecting Peyton to play the first drive. Afterwards, he'll probably be the one calling the plays to Sorgi.

And here's the other reason I'm excited: We've gotta find some guys for our defense. And pre-season games are the chance to see guys playing their hearts out for those starting spots. Some of these guys might not ever get onto the field aside from a pre-season game, and they all know the holes we have to fill, so I expect them to play their hearts out and fight for those open spots.

I know some people don't consider Pre-Season as "real" football, but I care about it. It's football. It's something to watch. I think its more fun than the Pro Bowl, because roster spots are on the line. So, tonight in HD (I hope!) the Colts should have a fun time down in Dallas.

Despite our 1-8 pre-season record in the last two years, we have a pretty good regular season record, and a Super Bowl victory. So, win or lose, I just hope to see some good football played.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Life after Booger

Before the weekend I started a blog post about how Peyton Manning's confidence in the Colts' progress in training camp was a great sign for Indy faithful that the Colts may not suffer from a post-Super Bowl hangover.

Now, with the news that Booger MacFarland will miss extensive time this season do to a torn patella tendon in his knee, I've decided to scrap that post.

So ... now what? The Colts do have options.

A big loss

The first option -- and cheapest -- is to rely on draftees Quinn Pitcock and Kenyunta Dawson to carry the load. Pitcock probably stands the best chance to fill the void as he currently weighs somewhere around 300 lbs and is the highest drafted defensive tackle in Bill Polian's tenure (the fact that Polian usually sticks lowly drafted and / or walk-on free agents should tell you how good Pitcock may be). Dawson doesn't look like he'll fill the Booger role. He played defensive end in college, and at 254 lbs., it appears he will see the most action at defensive tackle during obvious passing downs. Other rookies vying to make the roster are Ramel Meekins, Tom Johnson and Edward Johnson, but they are long shots at best.

If only Dawson could add 50 lbs. quick

Another intriguing option is to pick up a player via a trade or waiver wire. Rumors about Warren Sapp or Tank Johnson joining the Colts have already started. The latter may have some merit because of the relationship between Dungy and Sapp, but the former will likely be a very long shot because the Colts don't take chances on sketchy characters. Counselors the Colts are not.

The option of veteran acquisition might be the road the Colts take. One advantage of the Tarik Glenn retirement is that it cleared some cap space for the Colts to make a move if needed. Not only could the Colts potentially add a veteran, but they could add a decent veteran since the cap space would probably allow it. The second reason the Colts might take this path is precedent. Bill Polian generally doesn't take a lot chances on personnel moves outside of the draft and re-signing their own; the fact that Polian did take chances on both Corey Simon and Booger MacFarland not only shows how important it is for the Colts to add a big body, but also shows that Polian is willing to add that body by any means necessary.

Time for Bill to earn his paycheck (again)

However the Colts do it, they need to do it soon and effectively. They cannot afford to go much of the season without a big body in there to keep the linebackers clean.

Colts first look

After our first training camp I must say the Colts look stout and ready for action. Even with the holes in our D-Line I feel the players and system we have in place will provide enough stopping power for any offense. We may start out shaky again, but like last year we will be there when the time is right.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

This Could be BAD

Looks like there is a chance we're going to be WITHOUT BOOGER McFARLAND this season!

READ ABOUT IT on the Indy Star Website.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Corey Simon done; Irsay sets goals and other camp tidbits

We now know the Colts will end their relationship with Corey Simon once they reach a separation agreement.

This is a shame, for one, because Corey was a good player and could have made a huge impact for the Colts. But given the un-Colts-like comments and behavior from owner Jim Irsay, general manager Bill Polian and Tony Dungy, it's clear that what transpired between Simon and the team was taken personally by the team. The Colts must view him as having a serious integrity problem, or something. Whatever it is, it's not good. I reckon we'll have to wait on Simon's tell-all book.

It's game over for Corey Simon.

Given the tension between the two parties, I think it's best for all involved that Corey Simon seek employment elsewhere if he is indeed able to play football (which has to be in question right now). The Colts have plenty of on-field issues to sort out. They don't need off-field ones as well.

In other camp related news ...
  • John Clayton observes that Anthony Gonzalez will make an instant impact. Also, within this excellent piece, Clayton observes that Freddy Keiaho is already showing signs that he can more than adequately replace Cato June. I personally think that Keiaho will be an upgrade over June by the time we get to December.
  • John Clayton writes about life after Tarik Glenn. I like the attitude the team is taking here: business as usual. I am hearing some positives about Tony Ugoh; the biggest positive being his intelligence, which Clayton writes about in this article. I have heard this more than once. When draft analysts like Todd McShay criticize the Colts for picks like Tony Ugoh, I guarantee you that they don't factor in intangibles like intelligence and how important it is to have it to grasp the Colts' offensive system.
  • ESPN says that four current Colts and one former Colt will make the Hall of Fame in Canton: Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Adam Vinatieri and Edgerrin James. As time goes on, the list could grow to include Reggie Wayne. And if not for guys like Jonathan Ogden, Tarik Glenn probably enters this conversation. Columns like this really put the level of greatness the Colts have achieved over the last decade into perspective. Twenty years from now we'll be telling our kids about how great these teams and players were. It's a special time.
  • Jim Irsay wants to repeat.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Simon to be Released

According to THIS ARTICLE from NFL.com, Corey Simon will be released in the next few days. It's really a bummer, because I would have loved to see him and Booger on the front line together.

Well, we did fine without him last year, so we should still be okay.