Peyton Manning’s Contract Talks:
Peyton Manning’s Contract Talks:
Possibly last Colts Blogblitz of the season:
When a team goes from a 14-2 season and a near Super Bowl title to a 10-6 season (6-6 at one point) and a wild-card round loss, obviously some fingers are going to be pointed. One week after the Colts’ disappointing 17-16 loss to the New York Jets, the Indy media and some Colts fans are starting to move their fingers toward head coach Jim Caldwell.
My hope is that this ignorance will end soon and that the city can once again accept Caldwell as coach. Here are the top five reasons that Caldwell’s status in Indy should not be in question:
5. Last season
Before we all run to the hills, let’s first recall what Caldwell did one year ago in his first season as head coach. He led the Colts to arguably the third-most dominant regular season performance in NFL history (behind the 1972 Dolphins and the 2007 Patriots). The Colts were 14-0 and leading the Jets in Week 16 at halftime before taking the team’s starters out for practically the next six quarters. The Colts then came within a surprise onside kick away from their third Super Bowl championship. Last season’s performance alone should keep Caldwell in Indy for an extended period of time.
4. This season wasn’t his fault
Four months ago, Caldwell could not have expected his the most durable team in the NFL to suddenly fall victim to the injury bug. He couldn’t have anticipated long-term injuries to Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garçon, and Anthony Gonzalez, all valuable targets to the arm of Peyton Manning. Their injuries were heavily problematic to a team that makes its living solely off the passing game. An injury to running back Joseph Addai for half the season didn’t help support the offense either. Caldwell spent most of the season trying to figure out how to make an offense work without the majority of its receivers and its featured back. By the end, he turned things around, leading the Colts to a four-game winning streak and a near victory over the Jets in the wild-card round. Who knows? If Collie was running that final third-down route instead of Blair White, the Colts probably would have won and Caldwell’s play-calling would look brilliant.
3. The Tony Dungy Era
In 2001, Tony Dungy hired Caldwell to be his quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay. Dungy and Caldwell hit it off immediately, leading Dungy to bring Caldwell with him to Indy the following season. Caldwell served as Dungy’s right-hand man in all seven of Dungy’s seasons with the Colts, all of which ended no later than the second week of January. Twelve months prior to his retirement, Dungy tagged Caldwell as his successor, in essence, passing along himself through Caldwell.
During Dungy’s tenure as coach, he became one of the most well-liked individuals by his players in the league and turned the Colts into one of America’s most attractive teams. He built the Colts into a family and was fortunate enough to leave another member of the family in charge after his departure. It would take a lot to convince me that Dungy doesn’t still have some sort of influence on the team through Caldwell. I can confidently infer that Caldwell has been in close contact with Dungy throughout the past two seasons, especially the rough patches like this year’s three-game losing streak.
There is a sense of comfort in Indy with Caldwell as coach due to his connection with Dungy. The players like the continuance of the Dungy Coaching Tree and have no desire to find a new coach with a foreign strategy.
2. The Peyton Manning Era
Since Caldwell arrived in 2002 as quarterbacks coach, Manning has won four MVP awards and led the NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, and practically every passing statistic known to man. Caldwell has been the mastermind behind most of Manning’s success, grooming him into the face of league’s passing game.
The entire Colts offense revolves around Peyton Manning. In fact, the Colts’ success revolves around Manning. When he has the proper weapons around him and plays like an MVP, the Colts are the best team in the league. When he does not have wide receiver depth and cannot find his groove, the Colts find themselves in trouble, as was the case this season (Manning through interceptions in seven games. The Colts lost five of them).
With his seven-year $99.2 million contract finally ending, Manning is currently a free agent, although he has expressed no desire to leave Indianapolis. The Colts still expect a solid four or five years out of Manning, who has never missed a game in 13 seasons. Manning will be 35 in March. Bringing in a new coach for Manning to mesh with in his final seasons would be disastrous. The Colts have put themselves in a situation in which their only option is to stick with Manning’s partner-in-crime, Caldwell, at least until Manning retires (which with his ironman stature, could be in 2020).
1. See here
Some more thoughts about the game on Blogblitz:
Over the past dozen years, Derek Fisher has taken the hearts of the Los Angeles faithful with his clutch 3-pointers to propel the Lakers to NBA championships. Never has Fisher made a last-second shot to take the lead only to watch his opponent do the same on the other end. The same goes for Derek Jeter, who has had a dozen or so clutch playoff hits in New York, never to see an opponent come back with a late-inning comeback of their own. Until Saturday, when Adam Vinatieri had never seen such an incident either. When Vinatieri sailed his 50-yard kick straight through the uprights with room to spare, the game looked as if would end with another game-winning kick by the best clutch kicker of all-time. Then the Jets stormed back and won the game with their own field goal.
Wayne/Garçon vs. Revis/Cromartie
Prior to Saturday’s game, I analyzed the matchup between each team’s top two receivers and cornerbacks. I expected Wayne to have a better game against Revis than he did and for Garçon to have trouble against Cromartie. However, the exact opposite happened. Revis kept Wayne ashore on his island for the entire game, stepping up to the line of scrimmage on every play and still managing to run stride-for-stride with the receiver in coverage. On the other hand, Garçon did a spectacular job running slant and hitch routes against Cromartie, who may have been the highest-profile cornerback that Garçon ever had to face.
The above text was an excerpt from a longer article. Click here to see the rest of the article.
As my year as a Colts NFL.com Blogblitz writer comes to a close, here is my post-game analysis article on the team’s 17-16 loss to the Jets:
As American sports fans, we love to play the blame game. We love to point out one stupid penalty or one missed tackle to blame our losses on.
We can’t do that this time, though. The Colts played their hearts out and the Jets played their hearts out, and in the end, the Jets proved to be the better team. The Colts didn’t get outhustled, outfought, or outcoached. They simply got outplayed by a better opponent.
On defense, the Jets rolled out the best offensive line in the league, while the Colts sent out their dismal rush defense. At times, though, the Colts’ front seven stepped up their game and pulled down LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene for losses. However, in the end, the Jets’ rushing cast overpowered the Colts for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
For the Jets’ passing game, the Colts brought in an average secondary that was supposed to stop a Jets’ receiving group that boasted Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, and Jericho Cotchery. The Colts did a superb job holding the Jets to only 189 yards passing, but in the end, the Jets’ star-studded receivers caught three crucial passes on the final drive to propel Gang Green to victory.
In terms of running the ball on offense, the Colts hoped that Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes would at least have average games to help balance out the offensive attack. Addai and Rhodes combined for 93 yards on 17 carries, more than expected against one of the top rush defenses in the league, but in the end, the Jets were able to make sure that the vast minority of those yards game in Jet territory.
Through the air, the Colts felt that their top-rated passing game would be the X-factor in paving the road to victory. Peyton Manning may be the greatest passer of all-time and Reggie Wayne one of the greatest receivers of all-time. Matching up with the Canton Class of 2020, the Jets sent out Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, two of the league’s top cornerbacks, to contain the aerial attack. In a matchup of best-against-best, Manning threw for 225 yards, including 112 to Pierre Garçon, who spent most of the game guarded by Cromartie. In the end, though, the Jets proved to be too much, as Revis kept Wayne on his island for just one catch for one yard, and the rest of the passing game could only muster one touchdown.
And finally, special teams featured a usually terrible Colts group against a Jets team full of Pro Bowl players. Adam Vinatieri kicked three beautiful field goals for the Colts and Dominic Rhodes had a decent game, returning two kicks for 44 yards. However, in the end, Cromartie had a huge 47-yard kick return in the final minute and Nick Folk kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to send the Jets to the AFC Divisional round and date with the Patriots in Foxborough.
So, in essence, the Colts didn’t do anything wrong on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Neither did the Jets, though.
Did Taj Smith’s running into the kicker penalty ruin the game for the Colts? No. In fact, it almost helped because Vinatieri ended up kicking the go-ahead field goal with less time left on the clock. So, that’s not to blame.
What about Blair White not catching the ball right before Vinatieri’s kick? Yes, it would have been nice for White to catch that pass. The clock would have run down even more before the Colts took the lead. But the pass came in low from Manning, a pocket passer throwing on the run, and White couldn’t scoop it up while diving. You can’t blame Manning playing conservative and keeping the ball away from the Jets’ secondary and you can’t blame White for not being able to make a miraculous diving catch. So, you can’t blame the game on that play.
For my playoff blogblitz post, I was instructed to write about the matchup between Colts wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon and Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Below is an excerpt from the post:
After the Colts’ 30-17 victory over the Jets in the AFC Championship last January, Rex Ryan went down to his bat cave and started thinking about the future. “The Colts are good, real good. How can we ever beat them?” Rex said to a colleague. “Can anyone in the AFC beat them?” “The Chargers always do,” Rex’s colleague replied. “Then get me some Chargers,” Rex said. He grinned.
Regardless of the fact that this story is made up, the Jets acquired two Chargers during the offseason. One Charger acquired was LaDainian Tomlinson, who had been a Colts nemesis on the ground for nearly a decade. The other Charger to arrive in East Rutherford was Antonio Cromartie, San Diego’s Pro Bowl cornerback, who made a crucial interception against Peyton Manning in the 2007 playoffs. While Rex and the Jets will never directly admit to it, the team signed Cromartie with the direct intention of improving their personnel against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs.
With that said, the most intriguing matchup of the week features the Colts’ wide receiver duo of Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon against Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
What has changed since last year’s playoff game
Along with Wayne and Garçon, Manning also had the luxury of Austin Collie and Dallas Clark to throw to. With Collie and Clark on injured reserve, Wayne and Garçon will serve as the only serious deep threats for the Colts’ passing game. For the Jets, Revis was the only All-Pro cornerback in the Jets’ secondary last year at Lucas Oil Stadium. This year, he will be complimented by Cromartie.
What happened last year
Revis was able to contain Wayne, arguably the league’s best receiver north of Andre Johnson, to only three receptions for 55 yards. Revis used his speed and smarts to keep tight coverage on Wayne, never letting the receiver slip behind him. Wayne spent the game stuck on Revis Island. However, with a few mediocre defensive backs guarding the other Colts receivers, Manning still managed to throw for 377 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. A large chunk of those yards came from the help of Garçon, who caught 11 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Haitian Sensation used his quickness and athleticism to catch short passes before sliding past any of the defensive backs that the Jets threw at him. Coach Jim Caldwell continuously loaded up Garçon’s side with blockers, calling plays for the young wide-out to keep the ball as far away from Revis as possible.
What will happen this year
Revis has been bored all season. Nobody has thrown the ball near him. In 13 games, Revis has not even had the slightest opportunity to intercept a pass. That should all change on Saturday night when he guards Wayne. Manning is not going to shy away from throwing to Wayne just because Revis is on him. Manning and Wayne believe that they are the best quarterback-wide receiver duo in the league, and they always have the upper hand, no matter who may be playing cornerback. Manning will try to throw to Wayne just as of often as he would in any game. Will Wayne have one of his best games of the season? No. But he will have a better game than last year. After matching up against Revis twice last season, Wayne has critical experience against the cornerback. Revis has also been fighting multiple injuries throughout the season, sidelining him for three games. Wayne has been carrying the Colts’ depleted receiving squad all season and his hefty role on Saturday will be nothing new.
And here is another post in which I discuss other key factors of the game and make my prediction:
The extent of the Colts’ passing game may come as a direct result of the team’s rushing game. If Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, and Donald Brown can run the ball for over 100 yards, as they have in the past two weeks, the Jets will have to press up on defense, giving the passing game some more leeway. However, if the Colts can’t get anything going on the ground, the Jets will afford to give Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie more support in the secondary.
The Jets’ pass rush will also be an X-factor. If Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and the other Jets pass rushers can put pressure on Manning, Revis and Cromartie’s jobs will be easy. If the Colts’ offensive line holds firm, though, the most dynamic quarterback in NFL history will have enough time to wait for his receivers to get open.
For my final score prediction, click here.
My newest blogblitz article analyzes the Colts’ 23-20 victory over the Titans and looks ahead to the Colts’ matchup with the Jets. A Colts-Jets preview will come later in the week.
Four short weeks ago, the Colts were a .500 team with a nonexistent rushing game and a crumbling former MVP quarterback who couldn’t throw to the right team. The Colts were a full game out of the AFC South crown and had lost three consecutive contests.
Now, though, the Colts are AFC South champions, hold the No. 3 seeding in the AFC playoffs, and have won 10 games for the ninth consecutive season (and 11th in the last 12).
The Colts capped off their four-game win streak in not-so-pretty fashion, but the team came through in the clutch. Peyton Manning completed 27 of 41 passes for only 264 yards. However, Manning thrived in the one area that had been his problem during the team’s midseason woes – turnovers. Manning did not throw an interception on Sunday and connected with two receivers, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garçon, for touchdowns. Most importantly, Manning came through on the last drive of the game, making two key passes for 31 yards to set up a game-winning 43-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Manning would not have found success without exceptional help from his receivers. Throughout the season, injuries to receivers Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark have weakened the Colts’ receiving corps. On Sunday, though, the four main remaining receivers stepped up their game, as Wayne, Garçon, Jacob Tamme and Blair White all had more than 50 yards. Wayne, Garçon, and Tamme also caught at least seven passes.
And then there was the rushing game. Four weeks ago, no one in Indianapolis thought that the road back to the playoffs would be paved by Dominic Rhodes. The back rushed 11 times for 48 yards, going hand-in-hand with Joseph Addai’s 11 rushes for 44 yards. Donald Brown also chipped in three rushes for nine yards. All of a sudden, the Colts have become a threat to rush for 100 yards every time they step onto the field.
One concern looking toward next week’s playoff matchup with the Jets could be the defense. The Colts stuffed Chris Johnson for 39 yards on 20 rushes on Sunday, an optimistic statistic for Colts’ fans looking ahead to a Jets’ offense that revolves around running backs LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.
However, against the Titans, the Colts surrendered 300 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to 38-year-old backup Kerry Collins. After his stellar Week 16 performance in Chicago, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez poses a much greater threat than Collins through the air, especially considering that he has veterans Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Jericho Cotchery catching his throws. The Colts’ secondary will have to find a way to keep Sanchez in check, while the linebackers clog up the rushing game. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the AFC’s Pro Bowl starters at defensive end, will also have to prove their worth to the entire nation. Freeney took down Collins once on Sunday, but the duo will need another sack or two to solidify a Colts’ victory.
Finish the post at http://blogblitz.nfl.com/indianapolis-colts/entry/colts_post_game
This blogblitz post is an analysis of the Colts’ 31-26 win over the Raiders that focuses on the reuniting of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes in the Colts’ backfield:
During the summer of 2006, most of the buzz around Colts’ training camp involved the fight for the starting running back job between veteran Dominic Rhodes and rookie Joseph Addai. Rhodes technically won the job, starting all 16 games during the season, although he split time evenly with Addai. Then, in January, Addai took over as the Colts’ full blown starting running back in the playoffs, taking over the majority of carries en route to the Colts’ Super Bowl victory.
On Sunday, Rhodes and Addai split carries once again, but with no competitive nature between them. Addai, limited by a neck injury that had kept him out of the previous eight games, took only 12 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. Rhodes, in just his second game of the season, took 17 handoffs for 98 yards. To top it off, Donald Brown, the Colts’ starter during Addai’s hiatus, pitched in 28 more rushing yards.
When Austin Collie went down one week ago, it looked as if the Colts’ offensive success would go down the drain. Manning looked lost without Collie and the Colts seemed to have problems moving vertically on the ground.
But now this. Including Manning’s 25 rushing yards and a 5-yard loss on the ground by Pierre Garçon, the Colts’ rushed for a net 191 yards, the team’s best rushing performance of the season. The three-headed monster of Addai, Rhodes, and Brown has the potential to wear down opponents in a similar manner the way the Giants did in 2008 with Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Derrick Ward.
In other words, Sunday’s game showed that this season made not all be lost if the Colts can run the ball. Manning only threw for 179 yards (and two interceptions) in the 31-26 victory, his lowest passing total of the season. Still, the Colts finished with 80 more total yards than the hometown Raiders.
Therefore, it was only fitting that Manning stuck the dagger into the Raiders’ hearts with a run. Manning showed once again how brilliant he is as a football player in the Colts’ third and two situation with 1:29 left to play. On a QB boot to the weak side, Manning trotted untouched down the sidelines. However, Manning slid four yards short of the end zone and kneeled the next two plays. Kudos to Manning for once again choosing his team over statistics.
Finish this post at http://blogblitz.nfl.com/indianapolis-colts/entry/addai_rhodes_reunited_and_it