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15 Apr 2007

Four Downs: AFC South

by Alex Carnevale

Houston Texans

The David Carr era in Houston is over, and the metrics have to applaud for posterity. Carr never was very good as a Texan, and looking back, the selection of Carr is going to be filed somewhere between Tim Couch and Eli Manning.

David Carr 2002-2006

Year G DVOA Rank DPAR Rank
2002/td> 16 -45.9 % 47 -68.2 47
2003/td> 12 -11.04 % 27 2.3 27
2004 16 -0.6 % 20 27.5 18
2005 16 -21.3 % 36 -17.0 41
2006 16 -8.3 % 28 10.4 26

Say what you want about the chicken-egg argument as concerns Carr's offensive line. Looking at this record, it's hard to believe Carr was going to come back to the Texans and be a success. He himself reflected ever so poignantly, "If we were stuck in the forest it would be hard to light a fire with what we had going on." Doug Farrar had a fun note on this signing, writing that "Carolina now has the first two players selected in the 2002 NFL Draft -- one spot after the Texans made Carr the #1 overall pick and the first in the franchise's history, the Panthers selected DE Julius Peppers."

New quarterback and Virginia alum Matt Schaub should be more Kubiak's style. Schaub's 2005 NFL trial was a rousing success at 30.1% DVOA, despite attempting just more than a handful of passes. This was basically one game against the Patriots in which they focused on the run and made Schaub beat them, and before you get too excited, remember the power of the Doug Johnson Effect. With former Packers head coach Mike Sherman as offensive coordinator, it's no surprise that Schaub's offensive weapons include two former Packers running backs, Ahman Green and Samkon Gado.

2007 Game to Watch: Carr will be on the sidelines watching Jake Delhomme when the Texans come to Carolina on Sep. 16th.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

The Texans signed wideout Andre' Davis for $850,000 to compete with Jerome Mathis and David Anderson behind the real Andre (Johnson, no apostrophe necessary) and Kevin Walter. The Texans can expect a diverse range of impact NFL talent to choose from with the No. 10 pick in the draft, and may opt for a defensive talent instead of bolstering their long-suffering offensive line. The key to their success may lie in what GM Rick Smith does with the rest of his selections. The Texans have real needs on both sides of the ball, but no second-round pick thanks to the Schaub deal. That's a problem considering that, more than most other teams, the Texans need an infusion of replacement-level talent to add depth.

Indianapolis Colts

It's one big sighhhhhh in Indy. "We might need another running back," someone bleats. Nobody can find Bill Polian because he's in the Jacuzzi. Peyton's looking to star in a sequel to the "The Natural." The Colts have made only token moves, bringing home guard Rick DeMulling after a two-year sojourn with the Lions and re-signing linebacker Rob Morris. Nick Harper has joined the Titans, but the Colts are probably better off having Harper stay in the division.

2007 Game To Watch: Five of Indy's games are special evening events; that's the kind of scheduling that comes when you wear rings. At Baltimore, at San Diego, and at Jacksonville will ensure there's little to no chance of an undefeated season. Once you get past that, there's enough filler on the schedule that the Colts have to do little to get back to the playoffs, avoiding the Steelers' fate in 2006.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

Safety Mike Doss found a new home in Minnesota, and the Colts will look to address that need in the draft. Finding a Cato June replacement waits for April 28th as well. The Colts are going to see what they can get out of free safety Marlin Jackson, plus their second-round picks for 2005 and 2006, defensive backs Kelvin Hayden and Tim Jennings, respectively. With the 32nd, 95th, and 98th picks, the Colts have a shot at a capable corner. Maryland CB Josh Wilson fits the Colts' speed mold at the third-round level, though he could creep higher out of scarcity. They will be highly tempted to take the best available with the knowledge that the defensive side of the ball again will not be forced to be a strength. The fact that Wilson would be a solid special teams contributor right away may enhance him in Bill Polian's eyes. Then again, considering this franchise's ignorance of special teams over the past few years, maybe not.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars may not have upgraded a single skill position so far in free agency, but a soft schedule means there's a chance that nobody will notice. Byron Leftwich's potential resurgence will be a nice story, and in a tiny media town, it's going to play a lot bigger than a string of misadventures on the part of Jacksonville players.

After 2005, Leftwich had security blanket Jimmy Smith ripped out from under him. The selfish Smith did the ultimate me-move and retired, leaving the ball in Leftwich's hands. PFP 2005 wrote, "Leftwich is still learning how to run a pro-style offense after playing in a shotgun-and-chuck-it set at Marshall. New coordinator Carl Smith will simplify the passing game..." This change resulted in Leftwich's 2006 DVOA going from an unimpressive 2.3% to 19.3%. PFP said he was "moving into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks" before Leftwich went down with an ankle injury and the Jaguars went to the run early and often. In a crushing win over the Colts in Week 14, Leftwich's replacement, David Garrard, attempted only 14 passes.

Adding Tony Pashos at offensive tackle was a smart move. Tight end Jermaine Wiggins is no great shakes, but worry more about what this says about the Jags' confidence in Marcedes Lewis' ability to contribute in 2007. Wiggins certainly isn't there to replace Kyle Brady as the "blocking tight end."

2007 Game To Watch: Facing San Diego at home on November 18th should be fun. You know you have an easy schedule when your in-house website is even admitting it's a cakewalk.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

The Jags have been quiet in free agency. Re-signing backs LaBrandon Toefield and Derrick Wimbush as insurance was a smart move. They'll get the back end of the draft's top talent. They already have some physical receivers and a capable running tandem, putting them well ahead of most of their division. Expect them to add on defense, as they can't be happy about picking a tight end in the first round last year. Safety Reggie Nelson is one of the players the Jags hope drops to them, as Donovan Darius can't be relied upon. Here's a quick look at who the usual suspects project the Jaguars to take:

Todd McShay: Adam Carriker, DE, Nebraska
Don Banks: Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
Mel Kiper Jr: Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
Peter Schrager: Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida State
Ourlads: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida
Scott Wright: Reggie Nelson, S, Florida

The middle of the first round is kind of unpredictable, so the Jags will wait and hope something nice drops to them at No. 17.

Tennessee Titans

It made for a lot of talk-show chatter, and a near-seizure by WFAN host Chris Russo, but somebody got what they wanted with Pac-Man Jones' season-long suspension. There's not going to be much protest on anybody's part, though he may have a shot at a reduction after 10 games. He's allowed to come to a practice facility once a week, watch practice, study film. If he gets in trouble again, he's done. It's not often you look back and think you would have preferred to draft a performanc-enhancing drug user in Shawne Merriman; instead of a Pro Bowl corner, Jeff Fisher now has the Artest of the NFL. (Pacers GM Donnie Walsh got a year of Peja Stojakovic back -- the Titans would take a year of anyone.)

Fisher wept quietly in response to the news that the 2007 Titans won't have their second best playmaker: "There was one issue that everyone knew about prior to the draft. His background was very difficult. None of us have an idea what he went through, I can assure you of that. Beyond that, it is very complex. If I could give you one simple answer to why, I would. But it is a very, very complex set of circumstances." Having Jones on a college campus for some of his year off may not be the best idea we've ever heard. FO head Aaron Schatz can give you a much better idea of what the Titans lose on the football field because of this than I can.

2007 Game To Watch: The games against Houston will be fun forever, kind of like if Kobe had signed with the Clippers. The Falcons come to town following the Titans' bye week; the promise of Vick vs. Young means there should be enough broken plays to make any purist appropriately nauseous.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

Nick Harper's signing (three years, around $10 million) should hold down one corner, allowing the Titans to try to score a hit at wide receiver in a deep draft for wideouts. New GM Mike Reinfeldt may feel the need to upgrade the secondary -- they already brought in former Falcons safety Bryan Scott to add depth, but the Titans still need help at corner. Drafting a corner with an early pick may not offer much value if they expect Pac-Man back in 2008, or especially part of 2007. With their schedule, they can still be competitive, and a team I cited as similar to last year's Titans squad, the 1992 Green Bay Packers, advanced to the divisional round the following year. There's precious few game-changers available with the No. 19 pick, but the Titans may be willing to roll the dice. A deep draft at receiver could see them choosing between Ted Ginn Jr., former USC wideout Dwayne Jarrett, and in-state talent Robert Meachem. All three have a good chance of being on the board when the Titans pick.

Four Downs returns after the NFL draft.

Posted by: Alex Carnevale on 15 Apr 2007

114 comments, Last at 18 Apr 2007, 5:24pm by Jeff

Comments

1
by Mac (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 4:28am

I love these articles.

2
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 4:38am

The Titans have a big hole at WR, but it's probably worth noting that their RB situation isn't much better. They let Travis Henry and Chris Brown go, and their second round pick from last year is eating himself straight out of the lineup.

3
by Israel (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 11:46am

Colts have to do little to get back to the playoffs, avoiding the Steelers’ fate in 2006.

Barring motorcycles and appendectomies.

4
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 1:00pm

I thought Bethea already proved himself as a Doss replacement, considering he did it last year.

The Colts I think are going to "shock" everyone and go offense in the 1st round. They lack a 3rd WR and Harrison is 35 (or 36..). Rich (most accurate mock drafter) Gosselin has them going Greg Olsen in the 1st round. He also has Amobi Okoye going to Houston, Jarvis Moss to Jacksonville and Robert Meachem to Tennessee.

link should be in name...

5
by Rollo (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 1:23pm

General sentiment has the Jaguars going safety in round 1, but I agree that they will probably pursue a BAP scenario on defense. Its a deep draft, the coaching staff has alot of confidence in Sensabaugh (warranted?), and I'm sure they would snatch up a more premium position along the defensive line if the available safeties aren't graded as all-stars. They did address one skill position, 3rd WR who has deep speed, by signing Northcutt from the Browns.

6
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 1:24pm

No way in hell the Colts take Olsen.

They've got a 1st round pick already in the speedy nearly-WR-type-TE category. Then they've got Ben Utecht, more of a true TE. Then they've got Bryan Fletcher, who's really good as well. (30%+ DVOA both of the last two years.) The only team more awash in TEs than Indy was last years Patriots.

I wouldn't be too surprised if they continued stacking the offense, but if they did, it is going to be with Robert Meachem or Dwayne Bowe, not Greg Olsen.

7
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul-Dawg aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 2:55pm

What is the Bobby Douglass Memorial thing? It was in the advertisement, but not in the article. Why is that?

8
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 3:53pm

To be fair to Pittsburgh, Israel, Indy won't have to deal with competition on the order of Cincinnati or Baltimore.

Jacksonville maybe can make them squirm with their schedule, but that's about it.

9
by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 6:25pm

BAP scenario? Black African Princess?

10
by Chris (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 6:53pm

How can you "simplify the passing game" in Jacksonville? Every throw was either an immediate dump off to a RB, a screen, or throwing a jump ball to one of their tall receivers. Byron is a joke and can't even stay healthy. The only offense that rivaled the Jags in simplicity was Mr Mexico's college style offense in Atlanta.

If the Colts bring a receiver ( let's say Jarret), then he will be good and everybody will say that those previous teams should have drafted him, but if he goes to say Minnesota he might not neccesarily succeed. The fact of being around that Colts offense will help any rookie out.

Since 2000, the Colts have only drafted 4 offensive players and 18 defensive players in the first three rounds. I wouldn't mind if they brought in another offensive player by virtue of their asset allocation.

4/18 ratio should ask questions about Dungy and his questionable defensive staff though. Is Dungy really a brilliant defensive mind? Why does Ron Meeks have a job?

11
by Brian (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 7:15pm

Mul-Dawg,

The "Bobby Douglass Memorial thing" is indeed in the article. The article alludes to the 2007 matchup between Vick and Young.Clearly,Carnevale is "honoring" Douglass' scatter-armed, run-whenever-you-can career.

12
by Eddo (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 7:38pm

11: You are right, but I don't think that comparison is fair. After all, Douglass was a very cerebral quarterback, which is kind of the opposite of Vick and Young, both of whom just have so much more raw athleticism...

13
by Rob (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 8:01pm

10: I feel as though perhaps we have had this argument before... Dungy is a good defensive coach, but he has had very limited talent, and more importantly, even less retention of talent. (You may have noticed that the Colts seem to bleed good linebackers) Very little salary cap space is spent on defense, and although Polian is extraordinary at drafting offense, it seems like he is much worse at getting/keeping talent on the defensive side of the ball. All that said, the Colts have improved nearly every year, except last year, with significant injuries and free agent losses (Bob Sanders, Corey Simon, David Thornton). So, yeah.. he's a pretty good coach. The one year when he had a semblance of a talented unit (2005), he managed to rank 8th.
Also, why the Leftwich hate? What did he do to you? He seems like a fine quarterback, whose primary concern is staying healthy. For a guy whose receivers, though tall, aren't terribly consistent, he seems at least average, which is quite a feat in the NFL.

14
by Frick (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 9:38pm

I see the Colts going O also in the first round, ala Reggie Wayne a few years ago.

Everyone was screaming that the Colts had to go D, but Polian predicted that they might go O, based on their grades and projections. Polian doesn't normally go BPA and sticks to their draft grades. If no one that they need has a first round grade, they will look to trade down.

Also, haven't the Colts operated on their normally off-season schedule. Watch a blossoming LB sign a big FA contract and sign no one of significance themselves?

15
by Jeff (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 9:53pm

Chris,

I see we are back on the bashing of Tony Dungy again. I have to agree with Rob. Given the injuries and free agent departures I would say that Tony did as well as could be imagined. And the fact that the Colts defense stepped up in the play offs has to be a credit to a degree to the Colts staff. You don't have to like Coach Dungy but jeez give the guy a break.

16
by Jason Mulgrew aka The Mul-Dawg aka Lord J Rocka (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 10:05pm

re: 11

Okay, thanks bro. Now I see what that was all about.
My old man once told me that Douglass sucked real bad, except for when he ran with the ball.

17
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 10:44pm

In regards toward the Colts taking Olsen...Dallas Clark can opt out of his contract in 2008 as well. And if he saw the money that Shiancoe and Graham got and the market remains steady-I imagine he would attempt to (but I agree a 3rd WR like Bowe does seem more likely then a TE...)

18
by Eric (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 11:09pm

I don't see how the Colts could go offense in the first round. I think that D. Jarrett reminds me to much of M. Williams, and that is not a favorable comparison. I also don't see how them going WR now is anything like how they went WR back in 2001. Did they have a proven number 2 receiver back then?

19
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Sun, 04/15/2007 - 11:22pm

BAP - Best Available Player. Some people just have a typing dyslexia thing going.

16 - Your old man was correct. Mostly because Bobby Douglas could only throw the ball at one speed - and that was at a Favre/Elway fastball speed. It didn't matter if the target was 5 yards away. Bobby Douglas may have been able to spell touch, but he couldn't throw with it. I remember one time against the Packers, his pass hit a receiver's helmet so hard it flew unbelievably high and took what seemed to be several seconds before it hit the ground. It was a hoot watching all the players look for the ball.

20
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 12:00am

13- How come leftwhich's receivers aren't consistant? Do you think the quarterback might have anything to do with it?

What if Bill Polian isn't so great at drafting offensive talent? What if instead of hitting homerun after homerun, he drafted the best QB in the league and now puts pretty good guys around him ( who he makes better).

4 offensive guys, 18 defensive guys for Fungy to play with. Fungy did as well as can be imagined with that defense? Like the game at Jacksonville where they had the worst rush defense in NFL history?

Oh but wait, it's not Fungy's fault, he doesn't have any talent. The team only drafted 4 times as many defensive players in the first 3 rounds of their recent drafts.

21
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 12:56am

#17 well not really-Terrence Wilkins, E.G. Green, and Jerome Pathon were the other WRs on the 2000 roster. But then again Marvin Harrison was also 6 years younger as well.

So the good 2005 Colts defense was a fluke? Or is it because it was healthy and was at its peak. The 2006 version lost Tripplett and Thornton, plus Simon, Reagor and Sanders for all or most of the season. If the 2007 version looks like the 2006 version I am ready to call the 05 D a fluke....

22
by NF (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 1:20am

"After 2005, Leftwich had security blanket Jimmy Smith ripped out from under him. The selfish Smith did the ultimate me-move and retired, leaving the ball in Leftwich’s hands."

I'm not a Jaguars fan, but I'd disagree with it being a selfish move. Jimmy Smith had been in the league since 1994, and he was past due for a major age-related decline. His best years were behind him, and it's not like he would be likely to win a ring by sticking around for a few more seasons. If you want an example of why Jimmy Smith retired, look at Rod Smith this season. Rod Smith had a concussion, leg injuries that have resulted in him missing the first mini-camp, and had almost no positive impact on the team. This was after he had a fine season the previous year. Also, Javon Walker was quite sucessful at WR last year, so it wasn't just poor QBing that caused the bad year.

The Jaguars had three first-day drafted WRs on the roster at the time, and drafted a pass-catching TE in the first-round of the draft. The go-to option for Leftwich has to be one of them, right? If the front office couldn't get one receiver competent to take the #1 role out of those 4 picks, then the Jaguars have bigger problems than missing Jimmy Smith.

23
by Kuato (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 1:36am

Polian has had some misses, but he has plenty of home runs too.

Not even considering the Bills and his role in getting Kelly, Bennett, Thruman Thomas, or his time in Carolina taking the team to the NFC Champ game in two years here is a short list of his first picks for Indy.

2006 Joseph Addai Tim Jennins
2005 Marlin Jackson Kelvin Hayden
2004 Bob Sanders
2003 Dallas Clark Mike Doss
2002 Dwight Freeney Larry Tripplet
2001 Reggie Wayne Idress Bashir
2000 Rob Morris Marcus Washington
1999 Edgerrin James Mike Peterson
1998 Peyton Manning Jerome Pathon

Just starting in 2004 (as the jury is still out on the 2005/06 class), I count:
1 Total Bust - Bashire
3 Below Average - Pathon/Morris/Doss
2 Average - Clark/Tripplet
4 Above Average - Sanders/Wayne/Washington/Peterson
3 Home Run - Freeney/James/Manning

-Also lots of Colts street FA (probably guys making in the neighborhood of 22K a year before hitting it big) have been major contributors: Nick Harper, Mike Vanderjact, D Rhodes, J Saturday.

Every team that Polian has been the GM/President for has done extreemly well, how can you possibly argue that he is not good at his job? He is supposed to be a bit of an asshole, but that is a different ball of wax. The man builds teams that compete for the champoinship every year.

24
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:59am

Kuato,

You cause me so much pain. Are your grades above relating to their round? I'd say Clark is a better TE than Larry Triplett was a DT (and certainly above average) but maybe not for a 1st round pick. He DOES fit what they need perfectly, however.... For a 2nd round pick (who might have gone higher had he left college one year sooner), Trip disappointed me.

Bashir played a lot--hard to call him a bust when he beats out other guys on the team who are also pro football players.

I'd probably call Doss average as well. And put Bethea in the 06 draft class (or were you keeping to the top few rounds of the draft?). Maybe grading the guys actually does the team a disservice, since they may not be world-beaters, but work to their individual peaks within the system--thinking OL here.

They get great mileage and production from their UFA classes each year--my impression, without any data to back it up, is that their UFAs contribute at an above-average rate when compared to the rest of the NFL. So if you add 5 guys each year at minumum wage, playing with a chip on their shoulders and loyal because "nobody else would give them a chance," then you can spend a bit more on the marquee guys. D. Rhodes, J Saturday come to mind, as you point out.

So, you think they'll make a move for Al Wilson if he's physically sound? I'd sleep easy at night if they did.

Finally, 100% agreement on Polian. His job is not to make friends, it's to assemble winning football teams. Now if you can be Mr. Cuddly Teddybear and do that, great. If not, I'll take a prickly winning GM when he's available.

Someday, somewhere, Irsay will get his due as a "good owner" as well. This has been a very different team in the past 10-12 years, from what it was since, say, 1978. The Balt/Indy thread from a few months back rehashed all the sins of the father and a few imagined ones of the son, but all in all, as a fan I have few complaints about ownership. (Which I can't really say about my MLB teams--Pirates and Yankees. Enough said.)

25
by srm (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 8:19am

NF: I'm pretty sure Alex was being facetious when he referred to Jimmy Smith's retirement as the "ultimate me-move". It's clearly intended to be taken in a kidding fashion, as in contrast to the oodles of players who make what are perceived by some fans to be selfish $$$ based decisions Smith was obviously just prudently excercising self-preservation.

Chris: Is there any prominent black QB that you don't harbor an irrational loathing for? Just to satisfy my own curiosity, is there also a bitter, secret hatred of Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham festering somewhere behind your belligerence?

26
by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 9:36am

22 Too bad so obvious humor has to be explained...

Leftwich.
He is a fooball geek ! Del Rio and the whole Jaguars' Staff is very happy to have him as QB and hopes a new scheme based on the play-action will help him find Matt Jones and Northcutt deep and Lewis and Wilford underneath.
With Taylor, Drew-Jones and Greg Jones, the rushing offense could draw safeties near the line, making the PA strategy effective, especially against cover-2 teams.
And Leftwich is arguably one of the ten best qbs today.
The Oline was very effective last year in the running game but the staff decided to improve the pass protection by signing Pashos, I trust them, and I trust a guy able to keep McNair healthy a whole season.
Del Rio is confident Sensabaugh can effectively remplace Grant but they need a new safety to groom to replace Darius when/if he gets hurt. They also want to find an edge rusher, and can wait one year to judge him because they first want to know what they have in McCray.
Indeed, the Jags are a good candidate to trade away from the first round this year to have two-first rounders next year when they need it to grab a QB if they want to stop the Byron era or to draft two quality players.
If they can have a secound rounder this year plus a first next year, they would have to trade. Their only need can be a safety or a cb, and they could grab some in the secound round.

27
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 9:53am

22- and Leftwhich was saying the Jags should be better without Smith. He wasn't tryinig to insult him, but he was saying how last year he would probably try to force the ball to Jimmy since he's obviously the best, but now he can try and find whoever is open. Nice try Byron.

26 How happy is DeL Rio to have Byron? Is he so happy that when Byron was healthy enough to play last year that Del Rio kept David Garrard in the lineup? So happy that there were numerous trade Byron rumors this offseason?

They were already running a lot of play action last year. The Jags would either throw a long jump ball to a 6'5 receiver, or dump off all day. There wasn't much to that offense they ran last year.

23- No no no, I think Bill Polian is great at his job. But what about the fans crying that Dungy doesn't have any talent on D? 18 defensive players drafted in the first 3 rounds vs 4 offensive guys? Who is getting the larger piece of the pie again? Manning is obviously outstanding, but how much does he impact those other offensive players?

Are Byron Leftwhich and Ron Mexico really prominant? Oh wait, I probably shouldn't say anything bad about their game because they might get offended. I can only insult the JP Losmans and Jake Plummers of the world without offending groups of people.

28
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 9:57am

#23/24: Incidentally, I don't think Sanders can honestly be classified as anything but an "average" pick. He was an early-second round pick, and he's started 22 regular-season games. When he does play, he's well above average, but you just can't ignore how frequently he's been injured.

The only weird thing about the Colts drafting is how frequently they draft defensive backs. They're so far above the rest of the league, it's crazy. And yet, they still felt the need to sign Dexter "I Have Two Super Bowl Rings, and Champ Bailey Has None" Reid. Bizarre.

29
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 10:07am

I think the Texans' offseason to date points very strongly to them taking a defensive back in the first round. Heading into free agency, the team's needs/question marks were at QB, RB, speed WR, LT, DT, OLB, #2 CB, SS and FS. The departure of Lewis Sanders created a hole at #3/4 CB (depending on whether anyone is signed to push Faggins back to his natural role as a nickel back) as well. Players, mostly of the serviceable veteran journeyman persuasion, have been signed at QB (Schaub), RB (Green), speed WR (Davis), LT (Jordan Black), DT (Zgonina), OLB (Shawn Barber and Danny Clark) and #3/4 CB (Jamar Fletcher). The holes at safety and #2 CB were the most glaring weaknesses on the team even before free agency: Houston were #31 in DVOA pass defense last year and #30 in 2005, despite ASR ranks of #24 and #7 respectively; there were very few meaningful personnel changes in the secondary between those years, yet neither has so far been addressed. Despite this, I have not seen one single journalist give Houston a DB in their mocks.

30
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 12:26pm

Chris,

Bill Polian may have drafted 18 defensive players vs. 4 offensive players but have most of those players drafted been " impact " players? I would say Dwight Freeney ( whom you think is overrated ) and Bob Sanders are the only two players who fit that bill.

In addition, with the losses of Cato June, Nick Harper and Mike Doss, Dungy is going to have to go real young yet again.
With all the turnover that goes on there
I cannot blame Dungy for not having the greatest defense in the history of the game.

31
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 12:51pm

I wonder how many other teams drafted 4 times as many big time defensive prospects as offensive and had such poor results. The argument that Bill Polian isn't a good player picker doesn't work.

Don't you think the coach bears at least SOME of the responsibility? His defense was a freaking joke last year. Fantasy football owners would just pick up whoever the colts were playing on a week to week basis. Ron Dayne is playing the Colts... let me pick him up. They made Maurice Jones-Drew look like Barry Sanders.

but oh yeah, Dungy doesn't have any talent. They use all their resources on offense... except 4 times as many high draft picks. I guess they all suck we get to say " Poor Tony Dungy, he's such a good guy" yet again.

32
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:28pm

Chris,

Just because you draft alot of players at a particular postition or side of the ball it
does not mean that the players will be all
pros.If that were the case then Matt Millen
would have 3 or 4 all pro wide outs.

That being said I will grant you that Tony Dungy has to take the blame ( to a degree )
about the defensive slump in the middle to late part of the season. Although the Jags game was one of those perfect storms
where defensive injuries, hot running backs and bad tackling made for a putrid day for the Colts defense. However, those kinds of days are so rare that I think at this point has been overblown.

The reason why I defend Tony Dungy ( outside of his track record ) can be summed up by this: The two main teams that use Cover 2 are the Colts and the Bears. If you look back the past two season for each team and then you compare
the starters on defense for each team position by position in terms of TALENT there is no question who has the better talent BY FAR. It is the Bears ( this is assuming that both teams d starters are healthy). Lovie Smith is an excellent coach who is by chance a Dungy protege but I doubt he could make the Colts defense as effective as the Bears defensive unit.

To be fair I believe the Colts defense should generally be in the middle of the pack. They certainly do not have the talent to be a Top 5 defense but they should not be dead last either. But again
given the injuries/fa losses with the general talent level the fact that they rallied to play well in the post season
has to say something good about Dungy's
coaching ability.

33
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:37pm

"but oh yeah, Dungy doesn’t have any talent. They use all their resources on offense… except 4 times as many high draft picks. I guess they all suck we get to say � Poor Tony Dungy, he’s such a good guy� yet again."

Dont forget that the colts actually have as much money locked up on the D as they do the Offense.

Polian is a good GM. Hes also on the rules committee, and has made a LOT of rules that improve the game that his team plays (see pass interference/illegal contact rules chages after Pats beat colts) .

Still, Polian does a good Job. Manning is great. The O-Coordinator I can't really judge because of Peyton, but I'm sure he does a great job.

Everyone associated with coaching the defensive side of that team should be taken out back and beaten. They're given more talent, and just as much money, and can't put together anything better than laughable.

34
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:37pm

They have almost 2 defensive starting lineups full of talent on defense. I'd bet that most teams are more 50/50 on drafting offense/defense.

If the Colts rush D getting pissed on was so rare, then why did they turn opposing RB's into fantasy studs every week?

I don't understand your point about why you defend Dungy? Because the Bears and Colts run a lot of Cover 2? Every NFL team runs cover 2, and it was "invented" before Tony Dungy.

Dungy is just like Brian Billick and Marvin Lewis. With some of the most talented units ever, their sides of the ball fared well. Without all that talent they are even lagging behind average. It's funny how the guy the stacked roster is a genius.

What defense didn't have injuries last year? It's just funny how his defense never got any better, and people give him a free pass because " the offense takes up all the resources"... well certainly not the high end draft picks.

35
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:41pm

33- Dungy insists that Ron Meeks is a good defensive coordinator. He just needs to be given " a chance".

Look at the returns on the offense and on the defense. The offense is a league leader with 4 high draft picks being used as of late.

The D has about the same payroll, and 18 high draft picks of late, but they stink.

Then comes the whole argument that Manning's offense is eating up all the resources and Dungy has no talent on D and is still a defensive mastermind running the cover 2.

36
by DWL (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:44pm

RE: #34, if only there were an article that would let us figure out how teams have drafted in the past. That would be great.

37
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:53pm

Just because you draft alot of players at a particular postition or side of the ball it
does not mean that the players will be all
pros.If that were the case then Matt Millen
would have 3 or 4 all pro wide outs.

In fact, they almost definitely won't be All Pros. Most draft picks don't peak until years 4-6 or so. Of all of those draft picks, the only ones they had that long were Freeney and Triplett.

The defense is below average, and needs tons of draft picks, because they can't afford to keep players around except the really, really stellar ones.

That, and the fact that they haven't drafted a decent LB in years. And what position did they struggle at last year?

38
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 2:59pm

"The defense is below average, and needs tons of draft picks, because they can’t afford to keep players around except the really, really stellar ones."

Why not? Theyre not that far off from the average as far as defensive spending goes.
Its not like they only have $15m/yr to spend on the defense. They've got 50.

39
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:19pm

Why not? Theyre not that far off from the average as far as defensive spending goes.
Its not like they only have $15m/yr to spend on the defense. They’ve got 50.

Maybe for 2006. That I'm not sure about.

In 2005, they spent nearly twice as much on offense as defense. For previous years, as far as I can tell, they spent less on defense than any other team in the league in 2004 and 2003.

That might be shifting now, but we're talking about the Colt's performance in previous years.

40
by Rob (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:21pm

"Why not? Theyre not that far off from the average as far as defensive spending goes.
Its not like they only have $15m/yr to spend on the defense. They’ve got 50."

Of that 50, about 3/4ths is spent on the D-Line. Which leaves them very little to spend on LBs and DBs, and those spots are consequently always filled with rookies/draft picks. Draw your own conclusions about cap management or the GM. Also, I wonder if good defensive teams spend MORE than 50% on their defense. It wouldn't surprise me.
btw, the ratio of offense to defense (to special teams) for the colts is about 51-45-4

41
by Rob (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:23pm

my information is from this page:
https://oncourse.iu.edu/access/content/user/bavanlan/Salary%20Cap/About....

I make no claims as to its accuracy..

42
by Rob (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:28pm

TERRIBLY sorry for the triple post, but two salaries that really stood out to me were Freeney's $8.5M franchise tag salary and McFarland's $5.5M salary. Without those huge salaries, which, remember, weren't present until this year, the defense's salary cap percentage would probably be much reduced (assuming there weren't other defensive players absorbing them--but the only one I can think of was C. Simon).

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:30pm

Yup, that's the first it's been that high in a long time. And it was all to keep/improve the DL - about $25M for Brock, Freeney, McFarland and Simon. In 2004, the line, with Raegor instead of McFarland, was $7M.

44
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 3:58pm

How come when Dungy got a lot of credit in Tampa it was " Dungy built up that Defense". It wasn't the GM, but it was coach Dungy.

Then when his defense sucks in Indy, it's not Dungy's fault, it's the GM's fault for not giving him enough talent?

45
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:01pm

RE 34:

What I should have made more clear was that
the 375 yards given up in the Jags game was a rare anomly. Yeah the defense against the run was poor up until the playoffs but like I said earlier a perfect storm of injuries,
bad tackling, and hot running backs helped doom the Colts that day.

My point about the Bears. Of the 32 teams in the league the Bears, Bucs and the Colts are the so called " Cover 2 " teams. Yea other teams play some C2 as well but the aforementioned threesome play it as theyre signature defense. In that regard I was simply pointing out that if you compare the Bears defensive talent to the Colts defensive talent( assuming both units are healthy ) there is no question who has more talent. The Bears. Lovie Smith is an excellent coach
but I doubt if he coached the Colts d unit they would be some all time great defense.

To say that Dungy has been exposed as a fraud since his Tampa days is just silly.
Professional sports are about the PLAYERS
Coaches need players. Bill Belichek is a " genius " but let's be real having had players like C.Banks, H. Carson, A. Reason, W. McGinest, T. Law, R. Harrison
T. Bruschi, T. Johnson, M. Vrabel, R. Seymour, A. Samuel, J. Burt and some guy named L. Taylor helped Belichek become a " genius ". If you are going to be critical of Dungy for having good players
then be fair and acknowledge that Belichek did not exactly find success with a bunch of 5th string losers.

Finally, you are right. Injuries are a part of the game. And the Colts are no different than any other team in that regard. But if a defense is playing 2nd and in some cases 3rd string players as the Colts were then it is not a real conducive situation to being a top 5 defense.

46
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:02pm

I just want to correct some of the numbers being thrown around here. Going back to 98 (the year Manning was drafted) The Colts have drafted 16 on Defense and 8 on Offense in the first three rounds. If you want to go back to 99 to make it more lopsided, it's still just 16-5.

However, 9 of those 16 defenders have been DBs (with 4 LBs and 3 DLs) While I think Polian is an above average GM, spending 9 first day picks on DBs over that time span tells me that the track record of defensive picks hasn't been that great... The lack of front seven picks has a lot to do with the crummy run D. Two of the better defenders in that time frame (Peterson and Washington) were let go by Polian. In fact, the only first day defenders left on the roster from the 2004 draft and earlier are Freeney and Rob Morris. Again, not a sign of stellar drafting.

47
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:12pm

Pat & Rob,

You both bring up interesting points. Pat I would agree with you in that although Polian has drafted defense alot most of his picks were DBs. I always felt that he got that backwards. He should have built the d line first then address the LB corp THEN address the secondary. The run defense being so poor is because they have no solid d tackles in place. I give him credit for picking up Booger from the Bucs but that should have been a draft day priority. It still should be.

48
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:14pm

It's also worth pointing out that a lot of those DB picks sucked, as evidenced by the fact that when the Colts let them go, no one else picked them up, either.

49
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:20pm

RE 44:

I think everyone in football gave Rich McKay his props for how he drafted during the Tony Dungy Era in Tampa. In fact, I suspect many Buc fans which he was still pulling the trigger in Tampa. No one has claimed that Dungy succeeded in a vaccuum.
Dungy outlined the system he was running and McKay drafted the players needed to run that system well. Same thing happened with Smith/Angelo in Chi, Belichek/Pioli
in NE, Cower/GM in Pitt etc, etc. No big suprise there. That is what a good Coach/
GM combo will do. Most of the time.

50
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:29pm

If the Colts have a high scoring offense ( which they do), you would think they would be leading games.

What happens when your winning games? The opposing team is passing a lot. That's why they invested in their D-Line and secondary. There is no worse feeling as a fan, to see your team up by 3 TD's only to lose a game.

However, the Colts rush defense is so bad, teams are just running the ball right at them. Running on 1st downs, second downs, and even on 3rd and 6, 3rd and 7. I can't remember a team being run at so much on 3rd and 7 right at their star defensive player.

Not only that, but Manning is more conservative on offense now, to seemingly rest that defense. I really believe the Colts could score more points ( if they were more aggressive), but does it really fit into the team concept to score on say 8 of 14 possessions, or to score on say 7 of 10 possessions?

DB's would also seemingly be very valued at special teams... another area where the Colts are lagging behind.

51
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 4:45pm

RE 50:

Some interesting points there. I agree the Colts really invested in the Dbs but they really have not adressed the d line all that much. The defensive tackle situation got real bad real quick until they got Booger. They drafted Freeney and got him on the field relatively quick and they drafted
Mathis who started out being a specialty player more or less until this year.

Agree with you on the 3rd and long running plays teams employed against the Colts. Although part of that was to attempt to play it safe and not allow Freeney and Mathis to tee off on the QB's.

Manning's " conservatism " on offense is attributable to the fact teams simply drop 7 players into coverage and force Manning to be real patient. Which to his credit he was. But I do not buy into the theory he was "resting the defense" he simply took what was given him. If teams had been more aggressive against him defensively he would have been more aggressive against them offensively. Pretty simple.

52
by Optimistic Packer Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 5:13pm

The Colts defensive starters as listed on ESPN.com:
DE Robert Mathis, Rd 5 2003
DT Anthony McFarland, Rd 1 1999 by Tampa
DT Raheem Brock, Rd 7 2002 by Eagles
DE Dwight Freeney, Rd 1 2002
LB Rob Morris, Rd 1 2000
LB Gary Brackett, UFA 2003
LB Gilbert Gardner, Rd 3 2004
CB Marlin Jackson, Rd 1 2005
S Antoine Bethea, Rd 6 2006
S Bob Sanders, Rd 2 2004
CB Jason David, Rd 4 2004

Brock was cut by the Eagles during the summer of 2002 and was picked up by the Colts before the season, meaning that every other player except McFarland has spent their entire career with the Colts and only McFarland has ever made it through camp with another team.

5 out of the 11 players here were picked in the first three rounds by the Colts. This is less than one third of the picks used on defense in those rounds during the period we are looking at. Of the 9 DBs, only two are starting, a startling lack of production from those picks.

This roster is also very young, with McFarland the most experienced player and Morris having spent the longest time with the Colts. 7 of these players entered the league in 2003 or later, including all of the secondary and two linebackers.

As this shows, the Indy D is built out of 5 high internal draft picks, 3 low internal draft picks, an undrafted free agent, another team's castoff seventh round pick, and Booger McFarland. With only 5 out of the 16 defensive picks under consideration currently starting for the team and a plethora of inexperienced players filling the roster, questions about the quality of defensive player evaluation and team policy towards defensive talent, both the GM's responsibility, should feature in discussion of Indy's problems.

53
by Don Booza (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 5:33pm

52: you might want to mention the former Colt's draft pics that now start for other teams. Namely:

Mike Peterson
Marcus Washington
David Thornton
Cato June

All 4 were highly productive players for the Colts that were signed to huge FA deals by other teams. Is this really an indication of "bad" drafting? I think not.

54
by Optimistic Packer Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 5:34pm

53: But it is an indication of a certain questionable policy towards defensive talent, mentioned at the end of my post and also a part of the GM's job.

55
by DWL (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 5:47pm

Other than subjective recollection. Is there any evidence that people are running on the Colts more than other teams, esp on 3rd and long?

56
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 5:49pm

Jeff- I see your point about Manning not getting blitzed as much. I'd also add that Manning audibles a lot to his running backs in favorable situations. I don't think a lot of quarterbacks would have the presence and unselfishness to do that. Could you see a guy like Brett Favre saying, "nah, I don't like my odds with what their showing me, I better audible to the run".

Coaches don't like hurry up offenses where the QB calls the plays.. why not? Because a lot of QB's would want to pass on every down.

52/53- It all boils down to Dungy getting a free pass on his defense. They don't even perform at an average level.

FO's own stats have his defense slightly as the 2nd worst run Defense in the league by DVOA, and the total defense still one of the 5 worst in the league by DVOA.

If the Colts go offense in round 1, they just might be liable to land a very good receiver that slips. They could insert the guy into the lineup in the next couple years in 3 WR sets, and he could eventually replace Marvin.

57
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 6:04pm

Coaches don’t like hurry up offenses where the QB calls the plays.. why not? Because a lot of QB’s would want to pass on every down.

And a lot of coaches don't like hurry-up or quick-strike offenses that put their defense on the field a lot. See the Parcells quote in the article linked (indirectly) below. Whatever Dungy's failures with the Colts defense, the man put his ego aside and stuck with a high-powered offense that manny thought he'd tone down when he was hired.

I'd be perfectly happy to have a coach with a lifetime 114-62 record, 8 straight playoff appearances, one Super bowl win, and a history of turning around an historically bad franchise (TB has had 10 seasons of .500 ball: three pre-Dungy, two post-Dungy, and five while he was there). He may not deserve all the credit for his teams' success, but I'd take my chances hiring him.

58
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 6:26pm

All 4 were highly productive players for the Colts that were signed to huge FA deals by other teams.

Not exactly "huge". Peterson, Washington, and Thornton were all signed to basically average deals. June was signed to a poor deal.

59
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 6:32pm

MRH,

Your assessment of Dungy is actually pretty
fair. I do not know if any coach is truly successful in a vaccuum. The GM must get a coach good players, the coaching staff does the best they can to prepare the players to play and then the players must execute said game plan on a consistent basis and at critical times.

I am a Dungy fan but I have never conveyed that he walked on water or performed any other miracles on a football field. But I do believe he is a good, solid football man all things being considered and here in Chicago I would take him in a heart beat. Although with Lovie Smith we basically have Tony Dungy, Jr.

60
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 6:43pm

"If you are going to be critical of Dungy
for having good players
then be fair and acknowledge that Belichek did not exactly find success with a bunch of 5th string losers."

Just a note, a lot of hte players you listed above were released by other teams, and deemed washed up.

See Harrison, Rodney. Or Vrabel, Mike.

61
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 7:05pm

57- So now we should praise coac Fungy for putting his ego aside and letting his good offense go to work?

He has a history of turning around poor franchies? Why, because it happened to two franchises? I wouldn't call the Colts a poor franchise either. I'd give alot of the credit to the GM of Tampa who stockpiled that D. You could run a 4-3, 3-4. cover 2, cover 3, man/man defense with that talent and have success.

I'd rather have Lovie Smith coaching my team than Tony Dungy. I'm not just saying that based on his success with the Bears, I'm just as impressed with what he did with the Rams if not more.

60- It's no use. Coach Fungy isn't even worthy of being in the same breath as coach Belicheck.

62
by Purds (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 7:11pm

Interesting that one of the knocks here was that Dungy's defense never got better last year.
Re: 34 (Chris) "What defense didn’t have injuries last year? It’s just funny how his defense never got any better, and people give him a free pass because � the offense takes up all the resources�… well certainly not the high end draft picks."

They never got better last year? Is that what KC thought in the playoffs? Is that what the Ravens thought? Even in giving up 34 to the Pats in the AFC championships, they gave up only two long drives (35+ yards). Points came on the Manning/Samuel interception, and then after three huge returns. In the Super Bowl, the Bears longest drive in time of possession was.... 2 minutes and 12 seconds. And, only one meaningful drive over 20 yards.

Now, was the Colts D a new version of the '85 Bears? No, but to dismiss the post-season is foolish.

Re: 33 (by Rich) "Everyone associated with coaching the defensive side of that team should be taken out back and beaten. They’re given more talent, and just as much money, and can’t put together anything better than laughable."

Given MORE talent than the offensive coaches. Really, Rich? Who is the Colts' defensive equivalent of Manning? Of Harrison? Of Wayne? Of James in the past? Of Clark? Yes, they have drafted more defenders, but numbers of picks doesn't mean squat.

63
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 7:12pm

RE:60

I cannot speak to Mike Vrabel but if I remember back in 2002 or so the Chargers were not that good anyhow. They probably
had little use for Rodney Harrison in any event. And if the Chargers felt that Harrison was " washed up " then that shows just how poorly the front office was doing their job.

If I had to take a guess I would gather that many of those players were foundation players when Belichek arrived.
Does not take away from him being a great coach but it does point out that in pro sports the PLAYERS are the engine that drives the machine. Someone will need to show me all of these " great " coaches who win titles and such with bad players.

64
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 7:22pm

RE: 61

Gotta disagree with your first statement. If that Tampa team had tried to run a 3-4 defense with that personnel they would have been killed. The linebackers and dlinemen were just too small to hold up. Hell when the Raiders ran a 3-4 in Warren Sapps
first year there and he was the NT he was so ineffective he might as well have been invisible.

I agree Lovie Smith is wonderful and his work in St. Louis was impressive but like anything else he got some players for the system he was running and simplified the defense. They did have good talent as their number 1 defensive ranking two years earlier showed.

65
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 9:44pm

Jeff, I think that Belichick may actually be a bit of an exception. The '03 and '04 Patriots, like his Giant defenses, were loaded with talent. The '01 Superbowl champs were a different kettle of fish entirely. They were a team fashioned out of a plethora of journeyman free agents, with a pretty average quarterback (don't make the mistake of thinking that Brady then was Brady now), who beat one of the best teams ever to take the field in the Superbowl. Now, you might argue that that team was simply a freak, and that its success, disproportionate to its talent level, was largely down to luck. You might be right. But it is a case which appears, at least prima facie, to support the notion that great coaching can overcome inferior talent.

66
by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Mon, 04/16/2007 - 10:17pm

Re: 61

Yes, Dungy has been given a higher quantity of picks on the defensive side of the ball, but those picks have had very boom/bust type qualities. Either they are cut from the team or ending up as FA signings for someone else. Very few players are retained.

I think part of the imbalance is that the Colts have adopted the philosophy that they are ok with drafting young defenders and letting people walk b/c of salary cap limitations. Therefore, they are going to continue to draft more defenders, and it will probably continue to look as lopsided as it has.

If you are to assert Dungy is being a given a pass, then you must either believe he lacks in developing the talent he was given or the schemes he ran with the players was deficient. If it is the former, I find it hard pressed to believe, because none of the Colts castoffs have been subsequently picked up and developed by other teams. If it is the scheme, please outline how he should have utilized his picks differently.

67
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:09am

Chris, what's your problem with Leftwich? He's a very good player when his recievers aren't dropping balls and his offensive coordinator will open up the playbook. I actually think simplifying the passing attack has been somewhat counter-productive, as their offense is too predictable. Look at the Jags' 3rd down numbers when Leftwich has been quarterback. They have been outstanding, because (I think) on third down Smith has been forced to let Leftwich throw more than an eight yard out.

68
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:25am

Re 61 So now we should praise coac Fungy for putting his ego aside and letting his good offense go to work?

That was my point, yes. Many coaches cannot do that and will try to force a square peg of talent into a round hole of how they have done things before.

He has a history of turning around poor franchies? Why, because it happened to two franchises?

No, I specifically said "an historically bad franchise" - one, singular, Tampa. The Indy Colts had recent winning seasons and playoff appearances prior to Dungy's arrival. They had a bad season and a famous melt-down on their coach "PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS? etc." but Dungy had a LOT more talent on the team he inherited there. What he did in Tampa was far more impressive than what he has done in Indy, SB win included.

69
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 2:14am

I maintained all along and still do that the 2006 debacle D in Indy would have looked a lot more like their pretty good D of 2005 (10th ranked?) except for the deep and widespread injuries. Yes, everyone has them, but not everyone plays safeties slotted #5 and #6, as well as replacing 3 "starting" DLs and the leading LB from the previous pretty good year (disclosure: Triplett and Thornton left and were not injuries. I am aware of it. No need to point it out.). And their playoff turnaround was widely blamed here in threads on the other teams' serial, collective ineptitude; but really, what are the odds of 3 or 4 playoff teams all having the same brain cramp and being dominated by an "inferior" D? Indy shut down three PLAYOFF teams--not, as my old wrestling coach used to say, "the little sisters of the poor." The other guys had pro bowlers and get paid too. It's a credit to the players and coaches that they turned it around. I still have problems believing it. (Another factor that Indy MUST fix--and may have in the post season--is what other teams finally figured out: how do you take advantage of their otherwise effective upfield sprinters on 3rd and 8? Run draws. Hell, run draws all game until they stop you, or, like the Jags did, your RBs fall from exhaustion after only 9 carries and 150 yards.)

It is also worth noting that while individuals from below-average Indy D's of years past left for much richer contracts that Indy was willing to pay them (Peterson, Washington, Thornton, even Triplett), this year their D has lost 4 and maybe 5 players. This sucky, can't get out of its own way D. Imagine that.

Once again, are other teams suffering some massive collective brain fart? Or do they have specific needs and view Doss, June, Harper, Raegor, and maybe tiny Jason David as being pretty decent players? I cannot believe that the teams that signed these guys figure their extensive SB experience will lead them to the promised land. Instead, the only logical assumption is that their new coaches and GMs saw these guys play and thought they were pretty decent.

Time will tell which is the true fluke: 2005's above average year or 2006's below-below-average reg season. My money (and face it, my 37-year fan bias) is on the stinker 2006 reg season as the aberration. But I hope that in about three years' time we can reconvene here and stick to our guns.

For the record, I too wanted to introduce my foot to Ron Meek's ass as he was kicked to the unemployment line late in the 2006 season. In one of the in-game threads (Tenn? Jax?) I opined how many staff and who should be fired. Perhaps I was too rash. Somehow they delivered a SB that was won mainly with D, so I'll eat my words on that topic. For now.

70
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 2:22am

Slight correction of my numbers above: Indy's 2005 D was 8th ranked in DPAR, between Jax and TB. That's pretty damn impressive for a team in their situation, and considering those two other teams are entirley defined by their D's.

In 2004 Indy was not horrible, with a 19th ranking. Just below average, really. Then they fell off the map in 2006. If they are between 10 and 15 (dare I hope for a higher ranking?) the next two seasons, I think we can all agree that 2006 was an aberration year, probably due to the injuries, and that the coaches and players indeed do not necessarily suck.

I crack me up, using phrases here like "I think we can all agree...." Like that's ever gonna happen.

71
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 10:06am

67- I don't have a problem with Leftwhich, he just stinks. His receivers dropping balls? That's all you ever hear with the Vicks and the Leftwhichs of the world. You never see the Reche Caldwells dropping passes for King Brady do you? His offense is extremely predictable, I'd guess that the coach doesn't trust him to open it up... especially in these tighter defensive battles. Leftwhich plays more of the role of the game manager, but he isn't even very good at that.

68- You don't think the Tampa GM gave Dungy a stacked deck of cards to work with in Tampa? Lynch, Sapp, Barber, Brooks, Mcfarland, Rice, Ahanitu, Kelly, Jackson? It's kind of funny how Fungy's team would get bounced from the playoffs early every year and then the year after he's fired the "paper champions" turn into the "real champions". Then some people try and claim that Dungy should get the credit for the 02 Bucs winning it all.

72
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 10:29am

but really, what are the odds of 3 or 4 playoff teams all having the same brain cramp and being dominated by an “inferior� D? Indy shut down three PLAYOFF teams–

Indy shut down three crap offenses. No brain cramp needed: Kansas City wasn't a good running team last year, Baltimore, likewise, and Chicago, well, we all know what's wrong with Chicago. Even New England was a good matchup for Indy.

Just because a team's in the playoffs doesn't mean they have good offenses. On average they do, but this last year was weird.

73
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:31am

Yeah, that nasty ravens offense led by the offensive guru Brian Billeck. Dungy should get an award for shutting them down.

Do you think the "dominating defense" in the super bowl might have had anything to do with... Heavy rain on a grass field, Red Grossman, and Manning and the offense winning the TOP battle?

Of course not, Dungy must have made a real good speech before the game that motivated his players. He deserves all the credit in the world

74
by JAT (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:51am

re 52

Just a correction, Brock wasn't cut by the Eagles, they ran out of money (messed up their cap management a bit) and didn't have enough left to sign him, so he was declared a free agent. The Colts snapped him up quickly. I guess you could argue that functionally it is the same thing as being cut, but I'd suspect the Eagles wouldn't mind a do-over as Brock has "outperformed" his draft position by a fair margin.

re 58

Pat, I'd agree the deals for Peterson and Washington weren't huge, but they weren't average either - or better put they didn't match the performance of those players up to that point. Both are better players with their new teams than they were with the Colts, so the contracts look perfectly reasonable now.

75
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 11:52am

Re 71: if you choose to give McKay the credit for the Bucs turnaround from the laughing stock of the league, fine. I think it was a combination of the Glazers buying the team and putting money into the frnachise, McKay drafting well, the players themselves, and the coaching, including that of Dungy. If I had a bad franchise and was looking for a coach who could turn around the attitudes of the players, I'd pick Dungy if I could.

Clearly McKay thought Wyche was not the guy to organize the talent he brought in and was happy with Dungy's performance for quite while before firing him because he "couldn't win the big one".

Gruden did it. The Bucs-Gruden is a lot like the Colts-Dungy. Historically strong on one side of the ball, bring in a HC strong on the other side to address the team's weakness. It took Dungy longer to get a SB win but overall his performance in Indy has surpassed that of Gruden's in TB.

And we know McKay is a genius. He's the guy who gave Vick the big contract that has hitched the Falcons' wagon to that star.

76
by Rob (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:06pm

"That’s all you ever hear with the Vicks and the Leftwhichs of the world. You never see the Reche Caldwells dropping passes for King Brady do you?"
Was that sarcasm? Did you watch the AFC championship game last season? I give all the credit in the world for Brady making do with the crappy receivers he had last year. He didn't do all that well, and frankly, I'm amazed that he did that.
In fact, even the best quarterbacks' receivers sometimes fall apart. Marvin Harrison, last year's playoffs, was just not bothering to make a play for the ball unless it was already in his arms. Manning deserves some of the blame for the crappy three games he had, but also some of it falls on Harrison. D. McNabb is another great example of an awesome quarterback being held back by below average receivers (at least until TO came to town..).
"Indy shut down three crap offenses."
I take issue with this. The offenses were ranked 10th, 11th, and 26th in weighted DVOA (NE was 8th). If you want to say that Indy had good matchups (they absolutely did!), that's fine, but the offenses they faced weren't 'crap'; they were good, they just weren't great. Also, Chicago and NE had the 9th and 8th ranked running attacks. Obviously, SOMETHING happened to Indy's D in the playoffs; it wasn't just an issue of facing below average offensive units.

77
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:11pm

Both are better players with their new teams than they were with the Colts, so the contracts look perfectly reasonable now.

Um. Huh? Peterson and Washington both were very good with the Colts. I... really wouldn't say that they're better with the Jags and Redskins than they were with the Colts. Heck, with Washington, Polian was really upset they couldn't resign him (why couldn't they? Manning). To quote,

When the deal was done, Bill Polian, the general manager of the Colts, first fumed, raging at the free agent system where he says the rules forced his hand. The Colts had developed Washington but were in tense negotiations with quarterback Peyton Manning. As it appeared the Manning contract was skyrocketing -- "Far north of what we anticipated," Polian said -- the Colts would not be able to keep Washington.

"After that, I said, 'How are we going to keep losing players and still be a good team?' Maybe I shouldn't have said it, but I did," Polian said.

The contract with Washington wasn't huge. It was just average. It wasn't out of line with their production, and the Colts, if they could've, would've kept him.

78
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:14pm

Rob, so does that Ravens offense scare you? How about a chiefs offense led by a guy recovering from a severe neck injury? Does Rex Grossman in pouring rain scare you?

Tony Dungy is underrated for shutting them down.

So what your saying is that even the best QB's can have receivers problems, and dropped balls? Geeez, and I thought Vick and Byron were the only quarterbacks who had dropped balls.

79
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:16pm

RE:71

Of course, Rich McKay did a good job of finding the talent that Coach Dungy needed to succeed. But correct me if I am wrong but isn't that a GM's JOB!!!!!!! I mean in New England this off season the Pats front office has been VERY agressive in identifing team weaknesses and signing free
agents to plug those holes including a supposedly great game changing linebacker out of Balt. If Bill Belichek could walk on water or turn 2 loaves of bread into 5000 loaves of bread, why not try to find Belichek bad, slow and untalented players
to coach into Superbowl champs.

80
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:17pm

Maybe they should start some sort of draft compensation for the Colts when they lose more free agents than they sign? Like losing a Running back and get a 3rd round pick!

81
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:19pm

Jeff- But where do you draw the line between good coaching and having a stacked team?

Is Brian Billeck a passing game genis for having a good offense with Moss, Carter, Reed, Smith, and a younger BJ?

82
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:22pm

71-Firstly, I don't want to compare Vick with Leftwich, they're completely different quarterbacks. Also, some recievers do drop more passes than other recievers, and I'd hate to be arguing that the Jaguars recievers are good. And, Leftwich has been better when Smith opens up the offense (see his 3rd down numbers).I’d guess that the coach doesn’t trust him to open it up That's part of the problem, the coaches don't trust him when he plays well, and then, when he gets injured, use that as an opportunity to confirm in their own minds that he's not very good.

83
by Rob (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:28pm

"Geeez, and I thought Vick and Byron were the only quarterbacks who had dropped balls."

"His receivers dropping balls? That’s all you ever hear with the Vicks and the Leftwhichs of the world. You never see the Reche Caldwells dropping passes for King Brady do you?"

I'm sorry. I must have misunderstood when you said 'you never see the Reche Caldwells dropping passes for King Brady do you'. I wanted to correct that misconception. In fact, good quarterbacks do have crappy receivers, just as often as crappy quarterbacks have crappy receivers (well, slightly less often). I was also suggesting that we in fact hear excuses from good quarterbacks, too, and that those excuses are sometimes valid. I am not entirely sure what you're getting at by saying that we hear excuses from Leftwich and Vick supporters. Is there something wrong with taking context into account? I must be missing something here.

"Rob, so does that Ravens offense scare you? How about a chiefs offense led by a guy recovering from a severe neck injury? Does Rex Grossman in pouring rain scare you?"
My subjective feeling of fear of football units of prominent playoff teams has little to do with this argument. I freely admit that they weren't great offenses, but they were still good offenses, whatever your personal feelings towards them.

84
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:34pm

82- Why do you think the Jaguars coaching staff doesn't trust Byron Leftwhich? Maybe because he's perfect in practice, makes smart quick reads, has perfect mechanics, and delivers a perfect strike to his receivers? Then again maybe they don't trust him because he doesn't impress them enough to do so.

Why do you think the Falcons ran a very simple offense last year? Was it because Mike Vick wows the coaching staff with his smart reads and accurate throws? Was it because they believe in him as a passer?

Maybe some players aren't trusted because they don't deserve it?

85
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:42pm

RE: 78

Here is where you are being a bit disingenous Chris. You have to make up your
mind. The Colts d was truly struggling in the regular season. And many of those offenses were not " high powered " offenses
either. But you are going to sit there and tell me that playoff teams had offenses sooooo bad that they could not take advantage of the Colts HISTORICALLY bad run defense?? Something does not add up there.

The Colts had struggles agaisnt worst offenses in the reg season than they faced in the playoffs. If they were bad in the reg season they should have been bad in post season, regardless of who they faced.

86
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 12:53pm

84-Can you please stop bringing the Falcons into this?
i don't know what the Jags' staff sees Leftwich do in practice. However, I know what Leftwich does in games. Based on what I see from him in games, he should be running a different styled offense to take advantage of his skills.

87
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:03pm

But you are going to sit there and tell me that playoff teams had offenses sooooo bad that they could not take advantage of the Colts HISTORICALLY bad run defense?? Something does not add up there.

The Colts run defense was not historically bad. Only in conventional stats, which is just because unbalanced teams aren't exactly common. The Jets run defense was worse.

And no, those teams couldn't take advantage of it - the Chiefs and Ravens especially. The only team with a strong rush offense in the AFC faced the Patriots, not the Colts.

Yes, it really was a very odd year. Both the Colts and the Bears had big holes: an awful run defense and an awful pass offense, respectively. They both managed to avoid the two teams in their conference who could've really hurt them (the Chargers and the Eagles, respectively).

88
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:04pm

RE: 81

Why is it necessary to draw a line at all.
Again, Scott Pioli is filling holes for the
Patriots. He is trying to find the most talented players he can for those holes. Do you really think that Belichek goes around telling Pioli to get him bad players? If Belichek and Pioli were convinced that Belichek could coach any level of talent into success why not just keep the Patriots as the EXACT same unit as they were last year. You know with aging linebackers, average receivers etc.
All things being equal most coaches probably find talented players EASIER to coach then average to bad players.

Think about it this way, Chris, you excoriate Vick and Leftwich for their alleged inability to run " simple " offenses. Fair enough. You do not hold the coaches ( Del Rio and Mora ) responsible for them. But in Dungy's case
his defense is running a bare bones version of an ALREADY SIMPLE DEFENSE and yet they struggle. All they have to do is
hit a single gap ( hence the term " one gap " defense ) and make plays. Dungy has it broken down to it's simplest form. If the players on the Colts d cannot suceed maybe they are not good enough. You seem to hold Vick and Leftwich to some sort of high standard and you give a " free pass " to their head coaches. Why not hold the
Colts defensive players to the same standard???

89
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:12pm

RE: 87

The problem I have with that your assessment Pat is that according to conventional NFL wisdom the Colts run d was so poor just about ANY running back should have had success against it. Alot of prognosticators felt going into the KC game
that Larry Johnson would have a record rushing day against them. And surely the big bad Ravens would pound them ( conventional wisdom). And to hear others tell it( notably Chris ) Ron Dayne practically came out of retirement to face that Colts run d. And he was successful. So the idea that the Chiefs and Ravens had " bad " run offenses does not hold with me since we were told that the Colts run d was a cure for even " crappy " run offenses.

90
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:16pm

RE: 81

Just a small correction. When Billick had his break out year as offensive coordinator
the QB at the helm for the majority of the games including playoffs was Randall Cunningham. Brad Johnson had a seaon ending
injury early in the season.

91
by Nuk (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:19pm

Crap offenses? According to DVOA, the KC, Baltimore, and Chicago offenses averaged a little above 0%. So the Colts shut down average offenses.
Bad defenses don't shut down average offenses. Average defenses usually don't shut down average offenses. Good ones often do.
But I'm still inclined to think it was pretty flukey.

92
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:30pm

The Colts had struggles agaisnt worst offenses in the reg season than they faced in the playoffs.

Who? They faced the Patriots in the regular and postseason. Defensively, it wasn't much different - the Patriots ran a little worse but passed a little better.

The only really subpar offense they struggled against was Houston, and only in the second game. And that's because Houston leaned heavily on its running game (the game was 7 drives long!), which, in fact, was the only above-average portion of the offense.

Kansas City's struggles offensively that game were also more about their failures passing than rushing, in my mind - and they really struggled passing in the second half of the season. They had 2.6 yards per rush in that game - bad, but considering LJ had no long runs, that usually indicates the other team's stacking the box (no runs into the secondary). The fact that they had 2.9 yards per pass was the bigger issue that game.

93
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:30pm

#91: Check out the rushing DVOA of each of them. The Colts pass defense was not abysmal.

94
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:45pm

The problem I have with that your assessment Pat is that according to conventional NFL wisdom the Colts run d was so poor just about ANY running back should have had success against it.

Then conventional NFL wisdom was retarded. The only teams the Colts faced all season that were below-average in rushing offense were the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills. Think about that. They faced thirteen games with above average rushing offenses and three with below average.

Those three games? The only reason any of them broke 4 yards/rush was a single play by Ronnie Brown.

So why is anyone surprised that when facing two more below-average rushing offenses, they held them to below 3 yards/rush? That's the same thing that happened during the regular season!

95
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 1:47pm

#94: should say "nearly" the same thing.

96
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 2:16pm

RE: 94

It looks like you were right in regards to the Ravens. They did have a below average run game. The Chiefs had an above average run game and the Pats and Bears were maybe above average run game. The Colts did struggle somewhat against the Bills and Jets run games although not to the level of the Jags game in Florida.

97
by JAT (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 3:03pm

Re 77

“Um. Huh? Peterson and Washington both were very good with the Colts. I… really wouldn’t say that they’re better with the Jags and Redskins than they were with the Colts.�

Um, huh? ;-) Although Peterson was a good player for the Colts, he was never a game changer even though he was at the playmaking position in their defense. I don't think there is any question that Peterson is better now than he was with the Colts. The position shift, and playing behind Henderson and Stroud in a different system, may have a lot to do with it, but so does his maturation as a player. He never was close to a Pro-bowl level performer with the Colts. I think he has been the last couple of years with the Jags (last years injury season excepted). Washington is a little harder for me to argue, as I thought he was great as a Colt, but I still think he has become a better player now.

I’m sure Polian wanted to keep all of them. There is no question that they could’ve kept them - I agree that the contracts weren’t huge – but it didn’t fit with their cap strategy, necessitated not only by Manning but Harrison, James, Wayne, etc.

Where we may disagree is that I think most free agents like Peterson/Washington – young guys that appear to be on the upswing – are overpaid initially as free agents. It’s simply the way the market works. Freeney will be overpaid when he finally signs a long term deal. If it goes well for the signing team, those guys continue to develop and justify the investment. In a year or two, as the market rises, they can end up being bargains. In Washington’s case the Colts definitely made a mistake. With Peterson, I’m not so sure – I don’t know if he’d have the same impact with the Colts at WLB that he has had with the Jags in the middle.

98
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 3:06pm

#96: The Chiefs "above average run game" was due to the insane number of runs LJ had (for cumulative stats) and the poor rush defenses they faced. Combine the two, and they had an ~average running game or so. Really, though, the problem wasn't LJ in that game. ~3 yards per rush isn't good, but it's nowhere near as bad as 3 yards per pass is. Everyone always says "look how few yards they held Larry Johnson to!" when the impressive stat was "0/10 on third down conversions" - all passing. The only third down the Chiefs converted all game was a Larry Johnson run. LJ just didn't get enough chances (thanks to the poor passing game) to actually break a run.

99
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 3:24pm

88- Are you saying that I use the same arguments againt Dungy that I don't use against Del Rio/Mora?

Jim Mora Jr. was one of the worst coaches in the league. The guy gets axed and doesn't get a DC job, but a defensive backs coaching job. Now that isn't some fool proof gauge, but it says something about the guy.

Del Rio is one of the better defensive minds in the game. One the other hand, I believe he wants to win with his defense so bad, that he has that bare bones offense that he hopes can just stay in games. He trusts what he knows. Now part of that ultra conservative/takes timley chances offense might have to do with Del Rio's preference for defense, but it also might stem from that Scarecrow Byron Leftwhich.

Let's put it this way... The cover 2 is a very basic scheme. Having sucess with the cover 2 with one of the most talented defenses of recent memory doesn't really impress me. Especially since that team was better once Dungy left.

What if the talented defensive Bucs ran a lot of cover 1/man defense. Their defense would have still been one of the top defenses and Dungy would have got credit for 1) having a good Defense, and 2) running a lot of man/cover 1.

Now people think that Dungy invented this outstanding new, greater way to play defense called " the cover 2". The Bucs run other stuff too, but they also run " the cover 2" and their known as a "cover 2" team.

Not many teams run a whole lot of man ( they can't with the rule changes), and that doesn't leave you too many options for zone.

Dungy is the opportunist for having such a talented Bucs team. He also didn't receive nearly as much blame for " not winning the big one" as Marty did, or even his own QB.

100
by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 4:42pm

Re: 99

I asked you this earlier, but did not receive a response. Your original assertion was that Dungy was getting a free pass because the Colts drafted more defenders than offensive players and the D was still not playing well.

Accepting your premise that the D was subpar, and that Dungy has the talent to field a good defense that means that Dungy is either poor at developing the defensive talent he has or has very poor schemes.

If he is a poor talent developer, I would posit that players that were waived (not salary cap casualties) would have been picked up by other teams and developed more fully than they were on the Colts.

If he is a poor schemer, I would like you (or anyone else) to elaborate on what schemes they should have run with the drafted talent that the Colts had. In other words, how were those 18+ picks mis-used?

Also, I am fairly certain Dungy had been excoriated repeatedly for not winning the big one until this year. Not as much as Marty, but Marty also had longevity on Tony.

101
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 5:32pm

ERRRR, I typed a response but it got deleted.

What if somebody argued that Tom Moore was an offensive genius? What if he got a head coaching job of a very good defensive team and won a SB?

102
by Jeff (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 5:53pm

RE:99

I am not sure how Tony is an " opportunist " for his work in Tampa. He arrived and certainly had some pieces ( ie Brooks, Sapp
and Lynch) but he still had to put in his preferred scheme and find out how to best use his players. It might seem obvious that they were going to be great but that first year when they were 0-5 and then later on 1-8 I am sure alot of Buc fans were wondering what was going on.

Plus if Tony is an " opportunist " as you say then what was Gruden?

What makes Del Rio one of the " better "
defensive minds in the game? Not saying he isn't but I would be curious as to your analysis.

103
by Optimistic Packer Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 04/17/2007 - 7:40pm

100: The talent part of this is where I was going in 52. Figuring out how much talent is present requires more than looking at the draft picks the team used on it in the last few years.
The biggest thing I see in the currently listed starters is youth. There is both a lack of experience for individual players and a lack of continuity as a unit. The policy of letting most guys who are up for bigger contracts walk also tends to drain the most developed players before the team gets much benefit for its draft picks and coaching.

104
by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 1:07am

Re: 101

What if Allen Iverson played football instead of basketball, would he be a better corner than Deion Sanders?

I am unsure what hypotheticals that deviate from reality mean. Especially because it is fairly easy to take either side of that argument without needing to provide any analysis with supporting evidence.

105
by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 1:13am

Re: 103

I agree. But I think the initial hypothesis was that Dungy is a poor coach, because of all the defensive picks the Colts used relative to offense.

Since there is debate over the talent - I'd like to hear arguments whether Dungy doesn't develop defenders appropriately or that the scheme into which they are drafted sucks.

106
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 10:01am

Jeff- Figure out what schemes to run with Sapp, Brooks, Lynch etc.? Do you think the Cover 2 is the only scheme that would work, or maybe other concepts would work with that talent as well? Dungy/Kiffen weren't the first or last coaches to run the cover 2... You either run man or zone... there are only so many zone defenses you can run and a cover 2 seems like possibly the most modest one to run.

103- OK, maybe you want to claim that not all of those high picks worked out of the colts... but 18 high picks on D and 4 on offense? I am not even arguing talent as much as I am saying that Dungy isn't as short handed as people/media make it out to be. He's had 4 times as many resources devoted to him over coach Peyton, and the returns on Peytons offense have worked out better.

I never said Dungy is a poor coach but he is overrated. He hasn't performed well in big games either. Belichick ran circles around him as far as in game adjustments go. I believe Andy Reid knocked his Bucs out of the first round 2 or 3 years in a row. Then Gruden beats Philly and wins the title.

Del Rio has had success wherever he went... Baltimore, Carolina, Jacksonville. The Ravens can be played down because of the talent he had. Carolina had some of the pieces in place, but they weren't the #2 defense before he got there. Jacksonville is the same. He had some turnover and made his defense respectable.

Everywhere Del Rio has gone, he's made better. The changes are swift and noticeable. He's an excellent speaker and fair to his players. He was an excellent player and he's an excellent teacher. Some of these smaller coaches can be intimidated to yell at bigger players ( and treat some unfairly), but Del Rio is as big enough to command respect. His size and communication skills allow him to be respected and an excellent teacher.

Besides just "building" an effective unit, I can respect the game plans he's executed. He was giving Peyton Manning a lot of different looks ( a lot of Quarter/Quarter/Half) deep coverage and switching it around. Del Rio and his staff obviously do their homework and try and take away what his opponents are trying to do. By mixing it up enough on Manning he's had some very successful games against him. Del Rio might not be the "best" defensive mind out there, but he's one of the best.

Some defensive guys might be more creative in generating schemes ( Dick Lebeau), or might be better at the chess match that goes on ( Belichick), but Del Rio is one of the better teachers and is ideal for building a defense. If I were an expansion team and looking for a defense mind...

107
by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 1:27pm

RE:106

You make interesting points about Del Rio and he has been successful wherever he has gone. Although the same could be said for Dungy ( Pittsburgh, KC, Minnesota, Tampa and now Indy)And like Del Rio, Tony is well
spoken, articulate and well respected by his peers.

Tony certainly performed well in big games this year. Whatever that means. You did touch on an interesting point that is worth mentioning. I tend to think one of the reasons Tony's football acumen by the average fan is overlooked is because he does not coach with a degree of difficulty. What I mean is that many coaches cook up complicated schemes and whatnot and try to PROVE that they are geniuses( read: Martz, Mike ) There is nothing wrong with that but in Dungy's case he believes that football is pretty simple. The late Ralph Wiley said it best about 4 years ago when he wrote that the difference between Martz and Dungy was Martz never really understood that for all the complicated schemes, trick plays,
mad scientist plans football is about tackling, discpline, hitting, playing hard and smart. Tony Dungy does understand that.

I agree that Tony is no " genius ". The funny thing is Tony Dungy does not think he is any genius either. But he knows Xs and Os. And he understands that all the exotic game plans in the world don't mean
jack shit if you can't do the basic things. Plus he is a great teacher and
communicator. If I had an expansion team
I would not hesitate to hire Tony. Although as a Bears fan I am happy to report that in Lovie Smith we basically have Tony Dungy, Jr.

108
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 2:54pm

It is easy to use cliches and say things like "less is more", "simplicity is better" and all that stuff, but if all your going to use is the most basic of basic schemes then your going to need a whole lot of talent. If you have Tampas talent it will work, if you have mediocre talent it probably won't.

I'm not so sure Mike Martz runs difficult schemes. The guy likes deeper pass routes to attack holes down field, and he likes more speed cuts from his wideouts. A lot of his offense is based on timing, and if run correctly it can be very lethal.

On the other hand, what if a team runs one of the simpliest forms of offense... the option?

I don't see Lovie Smith as Dungy Jr. either. I'm more more impressed with the work Lovie did in St. Louis ( with less talent), than what Dungy did in Tampa ( with all the talent in the world). Of course I'm not impressed with Dungy's defenses in Indy either. Just because he coached under him doesn't make them carbon copies. So is Herman Edwards Dungy Jr. also?

You could say all of those draft picks were busts, but if a receiver "busts" and had a terrible QB, would that same receiver bust for other offenses with better quarterbacks?

109
by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 3:28pm

I am a big Lovie Smith fan as well and admire the work he did in St. Louis but if you recall the Rams actually had an excellent defense the year they won the Superbowl. Two seasons later when Lovie got there they had the basic pieces there. They
added some players of course but it wasn't like the Rams were a total reclamation project either. So I question the assertion
that the Rams had little talent when Smith got there.

I would say Smith is Dungy, Jr because the Bears run the exact same scheme the Colts do. And Smith isn't any more complicated in how he runs his one gap, cover 2 defense than Dungy. He may blitz slightly more ( but then the Bears only have 3 blitz packages anyhow) but otherwise it is the same defense. Believe me I live in Chicago I have watched Smith closely these last three years. The only real difference is, compared to the Colts defense, the Bears have, how would you say it Chris, " all the talent in the world".

With Martz, I am not saying his schemes are complicated per say. My point is Martz many times seems intent on proving he is an offensive genius when a simple attack would suffice. The classic case of this was the Superbowl against the Pats. Belichek spent the whole game dropping seven or even more players into coverage. He openly dared Martz to bash him with the run and Martz NEVER DID. Some months
later Belichek stated he was counting on
Martz's EGO getting in Martz's way. That is all I am saying about Martz. I believe
he tends to think the game is about HIM not the PLAYERS. He is not a bad coach ( although, much like Andy Reid, he is not one of my favorites ) but his tendency to
turn Dr. Suess into Shakespeare has done him in on several occasions.

110
by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 3:46pm

Re: 108

Oh and to your first paragraph. You seem to make my point. Regardless of how simple or
complicated a scheme is, or how well of a game plan is put together you need the appropriate level of talent to execute it.
I struggle to see how having " mediocre " talent in any scheme is going to make that
scheme successful. If that were the case, Vic Fangio, who was the Colts d coordinator before Dungy and Meeks got there, would still be in Indy. Fangio ran a " complicated " defense where he " game
planned " all the time. By and large, for all his efforts the Colts d tended to be dead last more times than not. For all the struggles this season the Colts D under Dungy while not lights out great has made strides over the years previous to this one.

111
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 4:21pm

Arrrh-

I think people get too "schemed out". This guy runs the cover 2 ( as if that's all they do), this guy runs a more aggressive blitz, this guy runs this, this guy runs that.

Tampa runs the cover 2. Does that mean they never play man/man, they never blitz, they never run anything else?

People talk about the "west coast offense", this team runs the WCO, but could you "name" any other offenses?

People make these broad statements like " They ran the cover 2 that game". Does that mean that they didn't run anything else?

Belichek can maximize the talent he has toward an opponent. Anything from running 2 down lineman in a game to having a nickel and dime defense in there on first downs.

The coaches sort of are the chess masters with the players as their pieces. Right now I don't think you can find a better chess master than Belichek. Is he going to win all of his battles, of course not. If I have one game to win though, I want him commanding my troops. If all else things are equal, you go with BB because of the coaching advantage. Dungys runs his vanilla schemes and hopes the players will take care of it, that those things will take care of themselves.

Good coordinators are still highly underrated in the grand schemes of things. A lot of these head coaches are "motivators" or executives. Do you think Bobby Bowden really knows what's going on at FSU? Do you think he might possibly step in and override the coordinators play call, or he leaves that technical stuff to them?

112
by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 4:51pm

Never been an argument there. Both the Colts and Bears run man/man and both blitz( although the Colts far less than most teams
I suspect to protect young and in some cases average cornerbacks) I am not sure where there is conflict there.

Belichek is a solid chess master if you will. I have no real complaints there. If I had to pick one coach to coach one game( in
the 27 years of me watching football ) and that coach was at his absolute peak
it would be Joe Gibbs, hands down.

113
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 5:08pm

I wouldn't even say BB is the best coach ever, but he would possibly be the best coordinator ever.

I like Parcells a lot as a head coach.

Give me a staff with Parcells as the head coach, BB as my DC, and let's go with Mike Shannihan as my offensive coordinator. I think the strong run gam would go well with them instead of some OC that would like to throw more ( martz). Give me those guys and I'll take my chances.

114
by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 04/18/2007 - 5:24pm

Yeah, I have always loved Shanahan. I read the Denver papers online and I am amazed that the media there seem intent on running him out of town. Granted his success is down with Elway and Davis having been long gone but he has managed to stay afloat for the last few years.