Category Archives: Colts

Season Preview: AFC South

The AFC South is an interesting division. The Colts won the division in 2013 with an 11-5 record and the once powerful Texans had the worst record in the NFL. Jacksonville and Tennessee are both coming off an exciting draft but are unlikely contenders to win the division. With major questions surrounding Houston’s QB situation, Andrew Luck and the Colts are the clear front runners.

The Texans drafted a quarterback late in round 4 in Tom Savage. It is highly unlikely that Savage wins the starting quarterback job, he has much development to undergo. I guess Ryan Fitzpatrick is the frontrunner for their starting gig but that is not an attractive option. He may be a bright Harvard graduate, but Fitzpatrick specialty is late throws that get picked and he has limited arm strength. Case Keenum however did not fill Texans fans with hope last season. Its hard to win without good quarterback play; this is bad news for the Texans as I don’t see a good quarterback on their roster.

There is no question the Texans have talent, especially on defense. They drafted Jadeveon Clowney with the number 1 pick. A defense with Clowney and JJ Watt is too good to be true. If there is a team who can win without a quarterback it might be the Texans. Still it will be a tall order for new coach Bill O’Brien.

The Titans had a phenomenal draft. Taylor Lewan is one heck of an athletic offensive tackle and Bishop Sankey could be a game changer. The defense should be decent and DaQuan Jones will have an immediate impact up front. Jake Locker showed signs of life last year under center but nothing to be overly enthused in. Its possible Tennessee could fight for a wild card. They are a talented team but its hard to see them beating teams with good quarterback play consistently.

Jacksonville drafted Blake Bortles to be their future, but expect to start Chad Henne will play for the present. Jacksonville should be more explosive on offense with rookie receivers Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson. The Jaguars are still rebuilding. They seem to be in a positive direction, however they are not there yet.

By deduction the Colts are the clear front runner to win the division. Chuck Pagano’s defense will continue to improve, especially with the addition of Arthur Jones on the defensive line. The offense will improve as Andrew Luck has a new weapon in Hakeem Nicks and the team will have a healthy Reggie Wayne back. After going 11-5 two consecutive seasons it seems likely that the Colts will win a second consecutive divisional championship.

AFC South Draft Grades

Houston Texans: C+

The Houston Texans grabbed the best overall prospect in the draft, Jedaveon Clowney. The Texans got a decent haul in terms of talent but really dropped the ball on their biggest need. The Texans revamped their already strong defense with Clowney to start the draft and got a steal in Louis Nix in the third round. Their second round selection was decent, as they got UCLA guard Xaiver Su’a-Filo. Andre Hal was a good value in the 6th, round. The problem is that they laid an egg at the quarterback position. Tom Savage was their answer under center in the fourth round and I hate the pick. I see Savage as an undraftable project that won’t be ready to start in his rookie year. The Houston Texans still do not have a franchise QB; this docks a decent draft considerably.

Indianapolis Colts: D

This is the second straight year that Indianapolis has had me scratching my head. First knock the Colts for giving up their first round pick for Trent Richardson- that worked out poorly. Their second round selection was poor in my eyes. They took Jack Mewhort, the offensive tackle from Ohio State. I think they may move him to guard but I had better guards ahead of him at that point. If they intend him to be a tackle, I see that ending with a disappointing result. Their best value pick was Andrew Jackson, the linebacker from Western Kentucky in the 6th round. I thought that was a steal. Donte Moncrief is a decent prospect but is a bit raw of a wide receiver.
I had receivers ranked higher, at the time he was selected.

Tennessee Titans: A

The Titans had an amazing draft. With the 11th pick the Titans selected Taylor Lewan. Lewan is an amazingly gifted left tackle prospect. The the Titans selected my top rated running back, Bishop Sankey. Sankey is a compact runner who is hard to bring down because of his low center of gravity. I have compared him to a smaller version of Marshawn Lynch, who is more elusive and better catching out of the backfield. In the third round the Titans drafted one of my favorite prospects in DaQuan Jones. Jones is a mammoth space eater upfront who reminds me of Vince Wilfork. I pts hard to find an example of more value in three picks. I am not a fan of their 6th round pick LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In the 6th round however its hard to knock them for the selection.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B

I am not high on Blake Bortles. I see him as a very unpolished quarterback who struggles unless he rolls out of the pocket. The Jaguars thought they drafted a traditional pocket passer but I don’t think they got one. I had a third round grade on Marquise Lee, but I am in the minority on that. Allen Robinson who they took at pick 69 is a tough, physical receiver who reminds me of a young Anquan Boldin. Robinson was a steal. The Jags found talent and value deep into the draft. In the 5th round they selected Telvin Smith who fits nicely on the weak side of their defense. Aaron Colvin may have been a second rounder if he did not suffer a knee injury; they got him in the fourth. Chris Smith and Storm Johnson were also high value selections.

Playoff Preview: Colts vs Patriots

By Chris Schisler

The Indianapolis Colts head to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots in maybe the most intriguing game of the divisional round. Andrew Luck, fresh off the second largest comeback in NFL history, must be flawless to win this road playoff game. Luck’s counterpart is New England Quarterback Tom Brady who has played in 5 Super Bowls and won 3 of them.

The quarterbacks are what make this game so compelling. In an age of mobile quarterbacks who like to run the football, Luck and Brady are traditional pocket passers. Brady is a living legend, Luck may be one by the time his career is over.

The two quarterbacks are strikingly similar despite the significant age difference. They are both highly cerebral field generals. They both have great arms and great mechanics. Both the Patriots and the Colts believe their quarterback will come through at the end of a tough game with heroics.

This is a match up of two good teams but let’s be honest this is a match up is highlighted by the quarterbacks. The game will be decided by the play of Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.

The Patriots have young unproven weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal. The defense is not bad but is far from special. Without Tom Brady the Patriots would not be much of a team.

The Indianapolis Colts offense is growing up with Andrew Luck. Without the talents of the veteran receiver Reggie Wayne the offense is incredibly young. Second year players T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener have been Luck’s most dependable targets. Hilton is the unquestioned star of the receiving core.

The Colts rely on the undrafted free agent DaRick Rogers and the inconsistent Darrius Heyward Bay to produce for the offense. In the backfield Luck has a solid back behind him in Donald Brown. Brown’s back up is the disappointment that is Trent Richardson. The offensive line is at times shaky. The Colts are led by their stellar second year quarterback.

The Colts are probably the better team, but it is hard to pick against the Patriots. The Colts have a tendency to lay an egg. They were blown out by teams such as the Rams and Cardinals. They were down 28 points to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Colts are also the team that beat the Seahawks and the Broncos ( The #1 seeds in the AFC). You never really know which Colts team will show up.

The Patriots defense will likely key in on stopping T.Y. Hilton. The run game is a real problem for the Patriots defense, however rushing is not the Colts M.O.

The question is can the Patriots put pressure on Andrew Luck; and can Luck avoid costly turnovers? The Patriots defense is far from it’s day of glory in the early 2000’s but it is opportunistic. When the bad Colts show up interceptions have been a huge problem.

The Patriots offense is heavily reliant on production from their running backs. The Colts defense is usually strong against the run. If the Colts can stop the run it could be a long day for Tom Brady.

The pass rush of the Colts, led by their leader Robert Mathis, is really impressive. When the Colts pass rush does not get there however it will give up big plays in the secondary.

This is an intriguing match up. The Colts are well suited to win but they will have to play their absolute best. The Patriots are tough to beat at home. At the end of the day it comes down to the quarterbacks. It may come down to who has the last possession. I know one thing for certain; this will be a highly entertaining game.

Chiefs vs Colts recap: A Legendary Comeback

Chiefs vs Colts recap: A Legendary Comeback

Chris Schisler

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The Chiefs were the first team to score with an easy touchdown on a slant to Dwayne Bowe in on 3rd and goal. Then Andrew Luck responds with a 7/7 drive, in which he hit T.Y. Hilton with an absolute beautiful dime in the end zone. Needless to say the first quarter was highly entertaining. The opening quarter was also nerve racking for the Chiefs’ fans as they saw their beloved running back Jamaal Charles go down to injury. He would not return to the game.

Much to the chagrin of the Colts, the Chiefs opened up the second quarter with a deep pass down the seam to Donnie Avery to put Kansas City up 17-7. It was the second big play the Colts had allowed. The first huge play was a quick pass to Dwayne Bowe which he took 63 yards. Colts Safety LaRon Landry took a bad angle and missed the tackle.

The second quarter would get worse for Indianapolis after the Avery touchdown. Trent Richardson, who was acquired by giving up a first round draft pick, fumbled on his first carry. Alex Smith then quickly turned it into points, finding the fullback Anthony Sherman on an improvised shovel pass. The Colts were in trouble at this point and their rowdy crowd was wildly simmered down. Indianapolis trailed 24-7

The world seemed to be caving around the Colts. It was 3rd and 7, the Colts could not afford to go three and out. Luck stepped up. Literally, he stepped up in the pocket and completed a clutch pass in the middle of the field. Then on a fourth and inches the Colts lined up in the shotgun. I was surprised, thinking they would run it on fourth and inches and why would you do this in the shotgun. It was a thing of beauty however when Andrew Luck kept the ball on a zone read where the Chiefs crashed the edge not even considering Luck may keep it. The momentum had swiftly swung. You could feel it. The Colts looked like they would start rolling. They only rolled so far however and were held to an important but in some ways deflating field goal.

The next drive was the first half in a nutshell. The Chiefs marched down the field, converting on four third downs and scoring a touchdown. The Chiefs led 31-10 in an absolute shocking moment the favored Colts were getting killed and they were being too hospitable to their guests. The Colts shot themselves in the foot every chance they got. They allowed the Chiefs to dominate them. The secondary was getting torched, the defensive line got torched and they could not get off the field on third downs. The offense was not mistake free in the first two quarters either. Trent Richardson’s fumble cost them seven, when they finally got some momentum they had to settle for an unsatisfying field goal and Andrew Luck threw an interception in the final minute of the first half.

In a game that was once 7-7 after the Colts offense opened with a flawless drive and Kansas City lost its best player to a concussion, the Chiefs were ahead 21 points. Chuck Pagano, his staff and his team had a mountain to climb after the half. I would hate to be a fly in the wall of the Colts locker room because I can’t believe the conversation was pleasant. There could not have been a lot of good things to say. The defense was missing tackles left and right and the offense wasted a lot of opportunities. There was one thing was certain; a team led by Chuck Pagano would not quit.

The Kansas City jubilation was increased as the second half started with an Andrew Luck interception. Luck tried to force the ball to a receiver running an out route and Chiefs’ safety Husain Abdullah jumped the route for the easy telegraphed interception. Alex Smith with another improvising play found Knile Davis for a touchdown that stretched the score to 38-10. The Chiefs were rolling at every level. The offense was scoring touchdowns. Knile Davis was producing in replacement of Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith’s play was just about flawless. The defense had provided three turnovers including two Andrew Luck interceptions.

The Colts answered quickly with a huge 46 yard pass to Da’Rick Rogers. If you recall, CSF was very keen on the talents of Rogers who was an undrafted free agent due to off the field problems. The Colts scored a touchdown on the next play.

That is when disaster struck for Kansas City. Alex Smith fumbled after being sacked by Robert Mathis, it was the Colts ball and it was a brand new game. There was some question if the Colts defender had gained possession but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. After a few Andrew Luck bullets to Colts receivers and a touchdown scoring swing pass to Donald Brown the score was 38-24. What looked like a clear blowout was now a two score lead and the Colts fans returned to an uproar. The Colts had no quit in them and the pressure was on the Chiefs. Kansas City had played a marvelous game to this point but the Colts comeback was creeping in the back of their minds.

That uproar was short lived. After a huge three and out and gaining more momentum than an avalanche Andrew Luck three his third interception of the ball game. The Colts defense was on point and they forced a Ryan Succop field goal. Before the attempt the Colts called what seemed to be an odd timeout. Down 14, it would seem that their timeouts would be more valuable than precious gold. The reason the timeout was called was that there was 12 Colts players on the field and the penalty would have given the Chiefs to continue their drive. The interception was as costly as it was frustrating for Indianapolis. The mountain got taller for the Colts to climb giving up the field goal and they had to waste a timeout.

Once again the Colts showed they would not go away quietly with a 6 play 80 yard touchdown drive that made it a 10 point deficit. A third quarter that started with an Andrew Luck interception was dominated by the Colts; you just cannot script crazy moments like this. The Colts came into the fourth quarter down only 10 after trailing 38-10. This was NFL entertainment on its highest form.

Andrew Luck came out firing like the professional field general he is. He completed pass after pass and the Colts were picking up big chunks of yards with almost every play. Luck went through his progressions with superb footwork and saw the whole field as his canvas. He painted one amazing drive and the drives last play was the Mona Lisa. Knocking on the door of the end zone Donald Brown fumbled, the ball popped up into the air and into the hands of Andrew Luck. Luck dove with the ball extended to get the ball in the end zone. Amazingly the score was 41-38.

The Kansas City Chiefs responded to the pressure applied by their opponent with a few critical first downs. This drive had a heavy cost to the Chiefs as they burned two timeouts. The Chiefs had made it into field goal range. LaRon Landry was injured as he made a huge tackle to set up a 3rd and 11 with 5:45 left in the game. The Chiefs drive stalled with a Ryan Succop field goal that put Kansas City up by 6 points. That was a win for the Colts defense; all they needed was a touchdown and an extra point to take the lead. Andrew Luck was now red hot and it felt like the field goal felt like it was simply not enough.

The drama of this game cannot be overstated. The game was an intense roller coaster. How many times does a team have a 28 point lead evaporate into a nail biting fourth quarter? Well that is exactly what happened in this once in a lifetime moment. Andrew Luck gave the Colts their first lead of the game finding T.Y. Hilton for a 64 yard touchdown strike. Then after an intentional grounding penalty on Alex Smith the Chiefs faced a 4th and 11. The Chiefs burnt their last timeout facing the do or die down. This is mind boggling because they just had the two minute warning. The Colts comeback was completed when Dwayne Bowe caught the ball and landed out of bounds.

In possibly the greatest comeback in NFL history the Indianapolis Colts treated their home crowd to a spectacular playoff win. Andrew Luck finished 29 of 45 with 4 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and 443 yards. Luck made some horrible decisions and had three turnovers but he would not see his team lose today. He led the miraculous comeback in the biggest highlight of his young career. The Colts reminded us of one of the great lessons football teaches. Anything is possible, anything can happen and you do your best with every opportunity until the battle is over. This was a thrilling example of how amazing football can be.

3 Knocks Of Common Sense

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3 Knocks Of Common Sense | Chris Schisler

1.)    There is nobody more deserving of a knock of common sense more than Jim Irsay. Like his father, Jim is not afraid to make a fool of himself. We get that Peyton Manning is coming back to Indianapolis, believe us NBC won’t let us forget it. Nobody needs to hear you bash the Peyton, Irsay. He was the franchise, the only reason you were relevant was Peyton Manning. Yes Jim, he only won 1 Super Bowl and was eliminated from the first round of the playoffs almost every year. But do you honestly expect me, or anybody else to respect you saying ANYTHING at all about the most important athlete Indianapolis ever had? Stop tweeting, shut up. Owners should be seen not heard. Hire the right people; let your franchise do the talking, not you. I’d like to thank Jim Irsay. Everyone knows a Baltimore boy loves bashing an Irsay, and Jim Irsay made that pathetically easy.

 

2.)    The football fans who boo after every injury need to be muzzled, or at least given a knock of common sense. Was there any bigger sign of stupidity then the Sunday Night Football a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta? They booed Vince Wilfork thinking he was faking an injury to slow the Falcons offense down. Yeah, guess what he is out for the season. The fans don’t even grasp the concept of ignorant booing. They booed a Patriots offensive lineman for being hurt. Was he trying to slow his own offense down? This needs to stop, football is better than this. Also I have a hard time thinking that there are 70,000 doctors in the stand.

 

3.)    Any moron who thinks John Harbaugh is not a good coach needs a big knock of common sense. Fans are calling into the local sports radio stations and spewing hate on the guy who has taken you to 5 straight playoff seasons and a Super Bowl championship. The funny thing is they are not even attacking him correctly. 1 fan called 105.7 The Fan cited that John Harbaugh does not carry any charts during the game, and he does nothing. HE DOES NOT CALL PLAYS! This is just the stupidest argument in the history of sports talk, and that is saying something. Harbs is a great coach with a resume that speaks for itself.

Jim Caldwell: The Good & Bad

With the struggles of the Ravens offense this season much criticism has been directed at offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell. Much of this criticism is valid. There are areas Caldwell must improve in. That being said there is a lot of good in Caldwell. He has a great chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco. Caldwell helped orchestrate one of the greatest playoff runs ever. Joe Flacco threw for 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, which tied a Joe Montana record. The Ravens are struggling, but they would never have won the Super Bowl without Caldwell. It is time to really evaluate his performance as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

Caldwell has been coaching since 1977 when he was a graduate assistant at Iowa. He is experienced, he is intelligent and he is respected as a great quarterbacks coach. He was the successor of Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. Prior to being head coach of the Colts he was the quarterbacks coach. He has been involved in 3 Super Bowls, 1 as a quarterbacks coach, 1 as a head coach and 1 as the offensive coordinator for the Ravens.

He was Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach for a long time. While Tom Moore and Peyton are credited as the architects of the Colts high octane attack, Caldwell played a significant role. Peyton Manning is one of the hardest workers in professional football, being his coach must have been very demanding.

Caldwell has a long history of facilitating a quarterbacks development and is a passing game expert. However you feel about Jim Caldwell you must respect him.

I prefaced the critical points with the respect I have for Jim Caldwell. It seems wrong to attack someone with all this great experience. But in this twisted little world in which we live, this is my job. So with that in mind let us delve into the problems.

Jim Caldwell never called plays in the NFL before he came to Baltimore. There are times when this is evident. The Ravens slow starts can be largely attributed to play calling.

The Ravens start games predictably and conservative. Predictability and lack of imagination was what got Cam Cameron fired last season. The Ravens have a home run hitting quarterback. No one throws a better deep ball than Joe Flacco. The Ravens have big fast burners in Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown. When you have a great quarterback, and you have speedy weapons, why be so conservative?

Jim Caldwell also does a poor job using the running game into the offense. This is Baltimore, running the football well is an expectation. The Ravens brought in run game coordinator & offensive line coach Juan Castillo to alleviate these problems. Castillo has made these problems worse, but that is a topic for a different article. Caldwell is a quarterback coach, and as such he knows the passing game. The run game is not his wheel house. His playcalling shows this.

I feel like the plays are not coming into Flacco quickly enough. The Ravens are not getting to the line fast enough, for Flacco to make his reads and adjustments. Maybe this is a non issue but it seems that way to me. This may be because Caldwell is in the booth rather than the sideline. This also could explain delayed in game adjustments.

Caldwell does not go into games with a good plan. He seemingly attacks the strength of the defense every week. Against the Bills it is hard to throw it in middle of the field because of their great linebacker play in coverage. Flacco threw 5 interceptions most of which were in middle of field by a linebacker or safety. Against the Dolphins Caldwell had no answer for the A gap pressure and had to little pass protection called. He needed to have a back in pass protection more often to pick up the blitz. Against Green Bay running inside is awfully hard to do for good running teams. The Ravens ran inside, into a brick wall constantly.

I do think Jim Caldwell is the right man for the job. That being said, i think he is still developing as an offensive coordinator. The reason is that he is a good fit is his cohesiveness with Joe Flacco. They seem to be on the same page. Flacco is the franchise, and the Ravens were right to hire a man that Joe works well with.

I believe in Caldwell. I believe in the Ravens offense. Whether you believe in Caldwell or not, one thing is clear. It is put up or shut up time for the offense in Baltimore.

5 Things We Learned Week 3

Its hard to believe we have seen almost a quarter of the NFL season. Week 3 is in the books. Teams are starting to reveal who they really are. Here is what we have learned from week 3.

1.) The Colts are tougher than many thought.

I predicted in the preseason that Indianapolis would win the AFC South. It was going out on a limb as many consider Houston the class of that division. After Indianapolis let a win get away from them at home in week 2; they had a lot to prove in San Francisco.

The game was a grinder but the Colts owned the fourth quarter. Andrew Luck played well but what sticks out was how well the Colts ran the ball. Against one of the toughest defenses in football the Colts were ready fir a heavyweight fight.

The Colts are heavyweights make no mistake about it. Andrew Luck is quickly becoming great, and looks even better than it did last year. We are finally seeing the Chuck Pagano defense come into fruition. With the one two punch of Bradshaw and newly acquired Trent Richardson in the backfield, the Colts have a surplus of young talent. The Colts have a chance to get rolling stronger than mist people thought they would.

2.) The Pittsburgh Steelers are who we thought they were.

The Bears did not let the Steelers off the hook for pathetic offensive line play, and lack of overall talent. Yes the Steelers showed signs of life, but they were bad. Turnovers, sacks and penalties sank the Steelers to a 0-3 start.

Ben Roethlisberger is the worst quarterback to have behind a bad offensive line. He extends plays behind a struggling line which exasperates their problems. If Ben does not get the ball out quicker, the Steelers will continue to struggle. They cannot run the ball. When you get beat up front everything else becomes that much harder.

3.) We cannot trust Michael Vick & the Eagles.

While everyone got crazy ga ga in love with the genius of Chip Kelly, i had some reservations. Many of these reservations were concerns about Michael Vick. Vick has fooled us in the past. He is capable of dominant stretches but always regresses when we fall for it.

Vick quite literally threw the game away last Thursday. Alex Smith did not play great football himself but Vick was awful. Vick is a quarterback that requires structure and a tight leash. When Andy Reid convinced Vick that he needed the structure of his offense, reading progressions and proper mechanics Vick flourished. When Vick got full of himself he regressed into his chaotic ways of being a quarterback slot machine. Kelly’s offense encourages him to go fast, to take thinking out of the game. How’s that turning out? I fell for the glorious Starship 7 act before, i did. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

4.) The Giants are a disaster.

Here is the good news. The Giants have a 2 time Superbowl champion coach and quarterback, and the receiving talent is spectacular. That is the only good news. The bad news: the offensive line gives Pittsburgh a run for worst line in the league; and the defense is just bad. Eli is throwing way to many interceptions, but is getting no help from the offensive line. The Giants cannot run the ball. The Giants got manhandled by an average Panthers team. There was 0 pass rush, their linebackers are a joke. Their secondary is just sad.

5.) Here Come The Ravens

The defense looks dominant. The Ravens were 2.5 point underdogs at home vs the Houston Texans. They obviously could care less as they kicked but in a 30-9 victory. Baltimore might just have the best front seven in football. We expected that. But did we expect the secondary to play this well? Matt Elam and James Ihedibo played lights out, so far above expectations. Charm City is now Sack City because of the dominant defense.

The offense is a work in progress but took significant steps forward. Once they realized they needed to be aggressive the Ravens offense finally stepped up and had scoring drives. The Ravens are just starting to roll on all cylinders and are growing into a dominate 2013 team.

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