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11 Sep 2007

Every Play Counts: Tony Ugoh

by Michael David Smith

What could stop the Colts this year?

After the defending champions dominated the Saints Thursday night, the immediate answer is "not much."

But there is one thing that would bring the Colts' hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champs to a screeching halt: An injury to Peyton Manning. And although Manning has lost all of one play to injury in his career so far, the off-season retirement of longtime left tackle Tarik Glenn leaves rookie second-round draft pick Tony Ugoh protecting Manning's blind side. So the biggest question facing the Colts is this: Is Ugoh up to the task? To find out, I watched the tape of Thursday's game with my eyes trained on Ugoh on every play.

What I found is that Ugoh looks much better run blocking than pass blocking, that he has the quickness to get out in front of a play and block a linebacker but lacks the power to take on defensive linemen one-on-one, and that overall he has the potential to develop into a good player, but this year the Colts will miss Glenn.

Ugoh's first three plays served as a nice summary of what his entire night would look like. On the first play of Ugoh's NFL career, the Colts lined up a tight end, Ben Utecht, next to him, and had Utecht help Ugoh in pass blocking -- something they'd do a lot Thursday night. On his second play, a handoff to running back Kenton Keith around the left end, Ugoh did a nice job pulling to the outside and blocking Saints linebacker Scott Shanle -- again, something he did well all night. On his third play he was whistled for a false start, and although that didn't happen again, he did make some other mistakes.

You can tell just by looking at the formations the Colts lined up in and the plays they called that they don't have complete confidence in Ugoh's ability to protect Manning's blind side. When Ugoh didn't have a tight end next to him, it often meant Manning would take a very quick drop and throw the pass immediately, as he did on second-and-6 on the Colts' second drive. On that play, Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison were both to Manning's left, and Manning took the snap, turned, and immediately passed to Wayne. Manning threw so quickly that Ugoh and the rest of the offensive line were basically inconsequential to the play.

On the next play, Ugoh again had Utecht next to him, but this time Utecht ran a route instead of staying in for protection, and that left Ugoh one-on-one with Saints defensive end Will Smith. Although Manning stayed upright long enough to get the pass off, Ugoh didn't do a very good job protecting him, and Smith drilled Manning just as he released the ball. That was not the type of play that inspires much confidence.

Ugoh takes too many plays off, especially on running plays in the opposite direction. He seems to figure that when a running play is going to the other side of the field, he doesn't need to try. That might have been true in college, but in the NFL there are too many fast defensive linemen for him to get away with that approach, and I have no doubt that he was reminded of that during film study this week. On a third-and-1, running back Joseph Addai took a handoff around the right end for five yards to pick up the first down, but it could have been a much bigger gain if Ugoh had managed to sustain his backside block on Saints defensive lineman Antwan Lake. It was Lake, lined up at right defensive tackle, who fought through Ugoh's block and got to the other side of the field to trip up Addai. Similarly, on the last play of the first quarter, Ugoh totally whiffed on Smith when Addai ran to the right. Although Ugoh got away with it because Smith didn't run down Addai on the backside, if Ugoh ever wants to be a top-notch offensive lineman, he will have to make all his blocks, whether the play is in his direction or on the other side of the field.

But on the very next play (the first play of the second quarter), Ugoh showed how much potential he has. It was a handoff to Addai around the left end, and Ugoh pulled to the outside and led the way, helping out with blocks on two linebackers, Mark Simoneau and Scott Fujita. For a 300-pounder, Ugoh can really move.

While he's effective against smaller, quicker players like Simoneau and Fujita, Ugoh struggles taking on opponents his own size. On a second-and-7 early in the second quarter, Ugoh was matched one-on-one with Saints defensive tackle Brian Young, who was lined up on Ugoh's inside shoulder. With the handoff going to go to the right side, Ugoh needed to take a quick first step and get his head across Young's body. Instead, he barely got his hands on Young and did nothing to prevent Young from getting into position to tackle Keith.

When the Saints' defensive ends tried to get around him, Ugoh showed off some good pass blocking skills. On a first-and-10 early in the second quarter, Ugoh did not have help from a tight end and went one-on-one with Saints defensive end Josh Cooper. Ugoh's footwork was perfect as he walled off Cooper when Cooper tried to rush to the outside, and when Cooper attempted to cut back to the inside, Ugoh knocked him off balance. Cooper never got close to Manning on that pass.

But, again, Ugoh just wasn't consistent enough. On the very next play he was matched one-on-one with Smith, and Smith crushed Manning just as he threw the ball. Ugoh was standing totally upright when he made contact with Smith, and that allowed Smith to get lower, have all the leverage and cut to the inside to get to Manning. The Colts simply can't afford to have Ugoh allowing Manning to get hit like that.

John Madden pointed out during the TV broadcast, and a couple ex-coaches I talked to this week agreed, that Ugoh is often too high when he takes on opposing defensive linemen. Offensive linemen have to keep their knees bent and their butts close to the ground -- those squats they do in the weight room are building the most important muscles they use on the field. Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd needs to stay on Ugoh about having perfect fundamentals on every play.

Nonetheless, Ugoh has obvious skills. He looks like he's already one of the quickest tackles in the NFL. He'll do good work getting into position against speed rushers. (He can probably hold his own against Dwight Freeney in practice.) The Colts drafted him with the idea that some day he can develop into a very good left tackle, and I think they're right. At the time they drafted him, though, they thought he'd spend a year learning from the sidelines while Glenn protected Manning. Instead he'll learn on the field, and he'll take some lumps. So will Manning.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 11 Sep 2007

50 comments, Last at 13 Sep 2007, 1:26pm by doktarr

Comments

1
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 11:38pm

Interesting that other articles I've read have said that when a rookie lineman has come in as part of Manning's bodyguard troop, they've been good. I'm thinking specifically of when Glenn missed time with an injury a few seasons ago and Manning didn't miss any time. Those linemen were drafted lower than Ugoh. Another point is that some of the pre-draft chatter about Ugoh was that he had a tendency to take plays off, and yet the Colts drafted him anyway. Things could get very ugly for the Colts if Manning goes down. Good for the rest of the AFC though.

2
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 11:43pm

But there is one thing that would bring the Colts’ hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champs to a screeching halt: An injury to Peyton Manning.

Here's a question: has any team had a healthier four-year stretch with their QB and two starting WRs?

2003, 2004, 2005, 2006: Manning, Wayne, and Harrison - total games missed due to injury: 2.

I can't think of one that's even close. I mean, within a factor of 5 close. Even when adding in "RB Colts," that number only goes up to *5*.

My brain can't comprehend that. Two WRs, a QB, and an RB, and they haven't had a significant injury to any of them since 2002.

3
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 11:47pm

-2 Well they do avoid contact more than any other offense I have seen.

Nice article by MDS saw pretty much everything I saw as I was watching his play very intently. I hadn't noticed the taking plays off thing though, that was a nice catch.

4
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 11:51pm

#3: Manning, sure, but Harrison, Wayne, and the running back? Especially the running back. Edge stayed pretty remarkably healthy as a Colt, which, after the brief injury to Addai, makes me wonder if the one thing the Colts will miss is his durability.

5
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 11:59pm

If I were a Colts fan, I would be encouraged that the Colts' coaches are playcalling to compensate for Ugoh's difficulties.

But I would also be discouraged because the formation the Colts are in will to some extent telegraph the play call, and you can bet that every opposing coaching staff is analyzing that film.

6
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:59am

James missed 0,0, 10, 2, 3, 0, 1, for IND, is that really soo strange, looks pretty normal to me?

7
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:09am

Thanks, MDS, I hadn't had a chance to do what you did and I really wanted to. I'm pretty encouraged, actually. It's one game and by playoff time, his weaknesses won't be so glaring. And Manning will be used to them. Plus any work-arounds they do now in terms of formations to help him (thereby limiting their play options), will be decoys by Week 10. "Hey look, Utecht is next to Ugoh, it's a long pass. Uh-oh!"

My first thought when I saw a picture of Ugoh after the draft was "skinny." Same thing I thought about D'Brickshaw last year, who turned out to be pretty good. Guy's bodies' peak muscle growth years are not college years, it's more like 25-30, so there's a very good chance that in 2-3 years time he'll be able to add the 20 lbs of lower body muscle that will give him a "weeble" base and the ability to take on a strong rush from a big guy. This team is not built to win it all now or else.

But as MDS pointed out, fundamentals are key. And not being lazy. That is particularly true of Indy's deception system--if he appears lazy then it's a tipoff that the play does not key on him. Naughty naughty. Every fake has to be sold as real in this system. And Mudd is the man to whip him into form.

8
by Scott (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:10am

Makoa Freitas started 6 games at LT for the Colts in 2003 in place of Glenn and the offense really didn't miss a beat. Add this Saints game and Manning's only been sacked 4 times in the 7 games he hasn't played with Glenn. Ugoh had a shaky debut, but I think by the end of the year he won't be much of a problem. Howard Mudd does an excellent job with the o-line every year.

9
by deshawn zombie (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:13am

Not to disagree with MDS, but I also was at the game and then broke down the tape. While I did see the Colts line up help to Ugoh's side on several plays, the TE often went out into the pattern. There were a couple of plays when the Colts had Wayne, Harrison, Gonzalez, Clark AND Addai running routes. It seemed to me on those plays (I'm thinking specifically of the overthrow to Gonzalez which was Ugoh's ugliest play) that Addai was running a short screen route over Ugoh just in case that Manning needed to check down quickly in the even that Ugoh got beat. I think that Ugoh played well, not perfect, but very well for a rookie, and given Howard Mudd's track record, the Colts will be fine. Sorry, wishful thinkers.

10
by deshawn zombie (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:19am

I realize that it sounds like I just described the play that MDS did, and that he addressed that issue in the article. I merely meant to say that it wasn't the ONLY time the Colts lined the TE over Ugoh only to have him go out in the pattern. My comment was trying to address the fear that the Colts might be telegraphing the plays based on formation. The overthrow to Gonzo was ugly, but it wasn't the only time there were 5 in the pattern. It was just the worst one becuase Mannning got hit on a play when an extra half second might have been a TD.

11
by deshawn zombie (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:26am

Just to make sure I wasn't just talking out of my rear, I went back to check the tape again, and on the TD to Harrison, there was no TE lined up on Ugoh, nor did Addai stay into help. So it's not accurate to say that when Ugoh got no help, the Colts threw exclusively short passes. Now it's taken me three comments to make one point. Let the mocking commence.

12
by Brian (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:16am

Re: 2

They definitely haven't missed much time, but Harrison has played through wrist injuries (including playing with various casts) the last 2 years.

13
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:43am

#12: Yeah, that's kinda the point, though. Owens has a dislocated finger and plays like crap. Harrison plays with a cast on his hand and no one notices. What the heck are the Colts trainers giving those guys?

14
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 4:54am

Owens has a dislocated finger and plays like crap.

Maybe it did affect him for a little while, but TO was 8th in Receiving DPAR last year, so he wasn't terrible. You might even say he performed like an elite WR.

Harrison plays with a cast on his hand and no one notices. What the heck are the Colts trainers giving those guys?

Peyton-Manning-is-throwing-you-the-ball supplements? Seriously, having a QB that's that talented probably goes a long way toward masking the effects of injuries. Still, you're right that it is remarkable.

I think their run of good health has a lot to do with an uncanny ability to avoid contact. Manning almost never gets sacked because of great pocket presence and a quick release, and Harrison, at least, often dives to the ground after a catch to avoid being tackled. I would guess that Wayne and Harrison also get out of bounds with a great deal of frequency to avoid tackles, as well.

15
by Ryan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 6:10am

I really wish I had DVR'd this game - I was hoping to go back and watch Ugoh every play like you did. Now, I feel like I sent out a scout to watch it instead, and this is the scouting report. Needless to say, this was the perfect topic and an excellent article.

I am sort of rooting "against" the Colts this year, because I predicted them to be .500 - considering the loss of Glenn (enter Sorgi), increased workload of Addai (enter Keith), and that I thought the regular season defense was the "real" Colts defense. Thus it would be "encouraging" that Ugoh struggled in pass protection, if it wasn't for the way they dominated the Saints on both sides of the ball.

16
by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 8:22am

Well done MDS.

I just want to point out that lining up a TE next to a tackle helps him in pass blocking, even if the TE releases into a pass route. It moves the pass rusher farther outside. This can be a huge help when the tackle struggles with a quick DE coming off the edge (not Ugoh's main problem).

It also takes away some of the pass rush options from the DE.

And gives the offense the option of chipping the DE before releasing into the pattern.

17
by Biff (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 9:29am

RE:14

"Maybe it did affect him for a little while, but TO was 8th in Receiving DPAR last year, so he wasn’t terrible. You might even say he performed like an elite WR."

I wouldn't. Leading the league in drops is not something a "elite WR" should do.

18
by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 10:16am

We can look at how the Colts have managed having to replace offensive linemen in the past to get an idea of how the retirement of Glenn is likely to effect them. In 2004, the Colts lost one starter from the year before to free agency. During the season, they lost 3 more starters to injury. For the second half of the season, they were starting a rookie 5th round pick and an undrafted rookie who'd been cut by another team.

Pass protection wasn't very good in a number of games, but Manning still managed to play like an MVP.

19
by chip (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 11:05am

No Extra Points regarding the Patriots stealing signals? "Chris" will be pointing out FO's Pats bias in 3, 2, 1....

20
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 11:10am

No Extra Points regarding the Patriots stealing signals?

There already is an EP on that topic, put up several days ago.

21
by Zac (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 11:29am

RE: 19. There is one, but it's been moved down the page.

22
by S (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 11:58am

Great job, as always.

One thing I noticed (and I'm sure MDS noticed as well, though it wasn't mentioned in the article) is that Ben Utecht would sometimes give the DE a little rub as he was releasing into his pattern, probably to slow the DE's first step and give Ugoh a little extra time to establish.

Also, the overthrow to Gonzales was also one of the few plays I noticed where Dallas Clark lined up as TE next to Ugoh. Is that a conicidence, or might that be the reason Clark lines up as a TE so rarely anymore?

23
by Costa (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:21pm

Re 17: I wouldn't agree with that. Drops are certainly a negative, but I would say they are a small part of a large package of different skills that make up a receiver's repertoire. One receiver might be on the minus side in the drops skill, but still be so good at route running, breaking tackles, speed, blocking, etc to still come out at or near the front of the pack.

Just like a shortstop in baseball might commit a higher amount of errors but still be an excellent defensive player because of the number of plays he makes that other shortstops do not, I think a receiver can be an elite player at his position and still have more than his fair share of drops (moreso when one considers that that receiver would have more balls thrown his way).

24
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:27pm

If MDS is right, it sounds like Ugoh excels against "speed" defenses, but may struggle, at least early, against "power" defenses. I wonder if Richard Seymour and Ty Warren are licking their chops... not to mention Stroud and Henderson. I wonder how much of this tendency comes from practicing against the Colts defense all pre-season, which is built around speed rushers...

25
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:32pm

Re 23 (drops)
We were watching the Miami-Washington game on Sunday, and one of the QB's threw what should have been a 1st down pass on 3rd down that bounced off the reciever's hands. The camera angle was such that the reciever came into view only at the last second. Our first reaction was "wow, that receiver just blew it", until they showed the replay. Turns out that Green or Campbell (I forget which), threw the ball four times harder than he needed to, given how open the reciever was, and threw it about two yards behind the receiver, and a little high, and it was only an amazingly athletic change of direction and diving leap that allowed the receiver to get to the ball at all. So there are definitely cases where a good receiver could have more drops than a bad receiver.

26
by MDZ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:42pm

When Glenn has been hurt in the past, it has been in the middle or late part of the season. The rookie that replaced him, Freitas, had an extra month or two to adjust and learn the system. That is time that I am sure would help Ugoh learn the offense better. I would also hope that in practice Raheem Brock would line up as RDE to help Ugoh get used to going against a bigger end that isn't as reliant on speed as Freeney.

27
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:52pm

I always find Clark an excellent blocker, although he usually is reaching second level linebackers, and not doing much on the line. That's probably the key to using Clark, he ends up being an excellent blocking wideout. His value is really quite high in comparison to most Tight Ends, or Wideouts for that matter.

And of course, some of that has to do with Manning. Brady and Manning do an awful lot to help other players do well. You can't really separate the job they'd do.

How many Tight Ends have looked good with Manning? Dilger was a stud. Where is he now? Pollard then became a stud. Where is he now? (Lions?), Hartsock, Clark, That other guy, that other other guy, that other guy still on the team.

You put a basically competent Tight end in, and Manning will find him.

28
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:55pm

Why would Stroud and Henderson be licking their chops? It's not like they are most useful stunting to the outside, so if Ugoh is on them, he's probably just helping on backside for a play that goes the other direction right?

29
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 12:56pm

Fletcher was the other guy still on the team. I don't even remember all the random tight ends they've used reasonably well.

30
by doktarr (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:02pm

RE: 2,3,4,

No, not the running back, but Wayne and Harrison do definitely avoid contact in two notable ways:

1 - their version of blocking on running plays is to run decoy routes up the field. This is often effective at drawing the CBs and safeties to them, and it keeps with the Colts' overall offensive philosophy of misdirection. But it does reduce the amount of contact they deal with.

2 - Both Wayne and Harrison with go down without a tackle after a catch beyond the first down marker, unless they have a significant YAC opportunity. So, they avoid the big open field hits that a lot of wideouts take. I clearly remember Wayne catching an out route and basically sitting down on Thursday.

Plenty of people like to criticize this as a sign that Wayne and Harrison are "soft", but as a Colts fan I'll gladly take two outstanding "soft" receivers, if it means that they manage to suit up every week.

31
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:02pm

So, do the Titans have a competent DE? I know they were able to shut down the Jags, but that's not really the same as going against the Colts. Is this enough to make me want to pick Tennessee this week? I doubt it.

32
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:04pm

Also, I would wager money that Manning purposely avoids throwing routes that have higher possibilities of the main wideouts being hit hard.

If they need 7 yards for a first down, and it's against a great defense, he usually let's Clark take the big hit. That isn't to say that he always avoids the main wideouts in the middle, but you can tell there's a tendency to not let them get their heads knocked off if possible.

The heavy timing routes also help this.

33
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:00pm

Peyton has missed only one play due to injury? That's amazing. Or is it? What about Favruh and the Dreamboat? Do they never miss plays either?

34
by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:07pm

...Ben Utecht would sometimes give the DE a little rub as he was releasing...

That sounds scandalous.

35
by MDZ (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:19pm

And the injury was a broken jaw. Of course Rypien fumbled away the one snap Peyton missed.

36
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:31pm

33: Brady has missed plays due to injury as a starter. The most notable was in the 2001 AFC Championship, when Bledsoe came in off the bench and did surprisingly well, which triggered a now-forgotten QB controversy before the Superbowl. As for Favre, the last time he had to come out because of Injury his replacement promptly broke a bone and was lost for the season.

37
by TED F!@#ING GINN!? (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:31pm

Re: 23, 25

Chris Chambers agrees with your logic.

38
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 2:36pm

"Plenty of people like to criticize this as a sign that Wayne and Harrison are “soft�, but as a Colts fan I’ll gladly take two outstanding “soft� receivers, if it means that they manage to suit up every week."

Thats not why they criticize Wayne and Harrison as soft. Wayne and Harrison are criticized as soft because they drop the ball if theres any contact during the catch.

How many times have we seen Wayne/Harrison stripped of the ball while making a catch? I can think of quite a few times.

39
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 4:18pm

T.O. didn't lead the league in drops last year. There's an article somewhere on this site that tallies drops, based on the game charting data. T.O. was on the radar for most drops, but not the winner.

40
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 4:26pm

Re #31
Kyle Vanden Bosch isn't too shabby. He's normally an LDE, going against the RT, and is listed there on the depth chart, but they've moved him around a little, starting around the middle of the last year, to try to generate pass rush in a different direction. He even stood up for a few snaps during the second Titans-Colts game last year.

At this point, good thoughts on fourth year players Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy are based more on optimism than experience and Sean Conover is a warm body. I'm interested to see how much, if any, Bryce Fisher plays, since he was acquired all of yesterday. Probably none, but I'd guess DE may be one of the easiest positions to come in and play immediately (K/P, DT, DE?) so I wouldn't rule out the possibility. Tony Brown also has played DT, but he's listed at DT on the depth chart linked above and depth is better at DT than DE, so I don't expect to see him as an end on any 4-man fronts.

41
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 5:18pm

Leading the league in drops is not something a “elite WR� should do.

You know, drops do hurt a WR's DPAR. He was productive enough on the plays when he did catch the ball that he was in the top 10 in DPAR. In other words, he was a boom or bust WR, and he had enough boom (leading the NFL in receiving TDs) that it balanced out to the top 10. That counts as elite in my book.

Seriously, Barry Sanders had tons of runs for lost yardage, but he was an elite RB because his many long runs were so valuable. You can't just look at one of the many skills a WR is supposed to have, and say that if he's not good at that particular one, he's not an elite WR.

42
by Purds (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 5:32pm

As a Colts fan, I was happy with what I saw from Ugoh. I did TiVo it, and the second time I watched I looked at hiim a lot.

My biggest fear is that he'll hit a rookie wall just as they head into the post-season. Does anyone have any memory, anecdotal or otherwise, of rookie linemen running out of steam late in the year, as we've seen by some skill position players. I assume it occurs, but I have no evidence.

43
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 5:48pm

42: D'Brichshaw seemed to lose steam late in the season last year, but I think it's less of a problem for lineman than it is for backs/receivers.

44
by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 6:03pm

#30, Doktarr, agreed (for the 99th time here)!

The most famous example of this was probably Harrison's TD vs Denver in the playoffs in 2003--catch and fall to fetal position at the 15; while 4 DBs argue about who blew coverage, get up and trot in for 6.

He who catches and runs away, lives to score a TD another play.

#42, Purds, on the plus side (cough cough), Indy has fewer drives than any other team--last year they had two fewer games worth of O drives than the Saints, so Ugoh's 1st playoff game is like any other rookie OT's 15th. Grasping at straws?

38, Rich, that's a bit of an old argument (and hard to prove unless you have reams of game tape you want to FedEx around to us all). If it were so easy, why doesn't everybody do it to them and strip them/make them drop balls? The 2003 AFCCG aside, I have not seen this often from them.

Marvin is not a "mid-air wrestler," which kind of bugs me, and which makes body positioning and pass-placement very important for him. But not everybody can be Mark Bavaro or Dennis Rodman out there. And luckily, not everybody has PM throwing to him. Reggie's a bit more physical in that regard--at least, that's how I remember it from seeing about 6 of their reg season games each season since way back, plus playoffs.

45
by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 10:22pm

The QB obviously plays a huge role in keeping receivers healthy.

As a JETS fan, I have seen Coles take tons of hits on high floaters. Chrebet's career a little early because he took so many big hits going across the middle and exposing himself to grab those same high floaters.

I think its pretty clear that Manning's accuracy and above average velocity have a big role in keeping his WR's healthy. (Though, as noted above, he seems to care less about Dallas Clark.)

46
by another dean from aus (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 10:43pm

Thanks for the observations deshawn zombie.

47
by Don Booza (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 10:49pm

Rich, your opinion of Harrison and Wayne is so incredibly off base I am going to assume you are just fishing for responses. Therefore, I will simply move along, because there is nothing to see here...

48
by brian (not verified) :: Thu, 09/13/2007 - 1:44am

As a colts season ticket holder I would have to say that losing Glenn was a concern to me. But to see how bill polian miraculously drafts players who are all but destined to be successful(look at their 1st picks every year for the past 10 years) I would be even more surprised if Ugoh doesn't become the colts best lineman minus saturday by the end of the year. And whoever said that the colts will go .500 this year apparantly is oblivious to the fact that only the 90s cowboys have enjoyed the amount of wins the colts have accumulated over the past 4 seasons. Or that the Colts basically blanked one of the best offenses last year ,(which is why I believe Bob Sanders should be the most valuable definsive player in the league )why'll still showing they have above and beyond the best offense in the game. Whenever Gonzalez gets on the same page as Manning it's going to get nasty. Stokley has never had the speed Gonzalez possesses and Manning called Stokley the best slot receiver in the league. With Addai becoming an even greater threat than EDGE EVER WAS... how can anyone stop this team? HERE'S A HINT :IT's GONNA TAKE MORE THAT STEALING SIGNALS!!!

49
by JoshuaPerry (not verified) :: Thu, 09/13/2007 - 2:27am

So, against a probowl DE, Ugoh looks good enough to be a starter in this league, especially on running plays. Decent breakdown of his performance, but I don't see how you can complain much about his performance in his 1st game in his 1st year. LOL, he let peyton get knocked down 3 times in 60 plays?

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by doktarr (not verified) :: Thu, 09/13/2007 - 1:26pm

RE: 30,

I agree with Bobman and Don Booza that Harrison and Wayne are not, historically, especially fumble/strip-prone. Moreover, if they were, wouldn't a logical way to deal with this problem be to get to the ground and avoid the chance at a strip? You could call that "soft", but wouldn't it just be logical? I think Easterbrook went on a rant this week about how receivers do more harm (via fumble risk) than good by fighting for the extra yard. I can't believe I just referenced TMQ, but there it is.

Regardless, this (getting down after the catch) is a reason people criticize them for being soft. Maybe not your reason, but it is a reason people do it. People mentioned Colt receivers' unwillingness to "fight for the extra yard" as an example of Manning's leadership deficiencies in the Thread That Shall Not Be Named.

I do agree that Harrison doesn't do a good job fighting for passes that are interception opportunities for the defender. Fortunately, he plays with Peyton, which minimizes the impact of this weakness.

I'm not too worried about Ugoh tiring out over the year - I think he will only get better as Mudd has more time to work with him. I'm more worried that he will struggle against a D that runs lots of stunts and zone blitzes.