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Monday Musings

Posted on: December 28, 2009 12:14 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2009 12:14 pm

---I can't believe the outrage over the decision by Colts coach Jim Caldwell to sit down his starters against the Jets with a 15-10 lead in the second half. He didn't have to play them at all, but he did. I wouldn't have.  That's the right of the coach. All those fans of teams that the game impacted need to shut their mouths. If their teams had taken care of business along the way, they wouldn't have needed the help of the Colts. I keep hearing integrity of the game stuff, but that's absurd. We know the Colts have clinched the No. 1 seed. Caldwell could have started all backups, and nobody should have said a word. The Jets can now get into the playoffs with a victory against the Bengals. That's why the Steelers and Texans and Broncos might not be happy. Too bad. The Colts don't need to apologize to anybody. It's about winning the Super Bowl. Not going undefeated. And for those of you trying to throw fuel on the fire by implying that Peyton Manning wasn't happy about the decision, I don't think that's true. I talked to Manning after the Colts beat the Jaguars 10 days ago, and he was much more concerned about the playoffs than an unbeaten season. And he meant it. The Colts had the right to do what they did. It's happened before and it will happen again. What if the Patriots rest Tom Brady this week at Houston because they'd rather have the No. 4 seed than the No. 3 seed? Isn't that the same thing? You do what's best for your football team, the rest of the league and their fans be damned.

---The talk of Bill Cowher to Tampa Bay makes sense. The Glazer family loves going after big names. Remember the Bill Parcells pursuit? They traded away a bounty of draft picks to get Jon Gruden. And Raheem Morris hasn't exactly wowed them. But I have to say this: Why did you hire him if you're not going to give him a fair shot? The Bucs have won back-to-back road games, including beating the Saints Sunday. And they've played much of the season with a rookie quarterback. I'm not sure Morris is the next great coach, but I think he deserves another year.

---Never thought I'd say this, but I think Eric Mangini does as well. The Browns have won three consecutive games. They're playing better. And if Mike Holmgren's top option is to replace him with Marty Mornhinweg -- the league rumor -- I don't think that's any better.

---Now that the Packers have solidified that offensive line, watch out for them in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers has been on fire. The Packers play a meaningless game at Arizona this week and might play there again the next week. Rodgers had had a great season, proving once again that the Packers made the right decision when they jettisoned the selfish old man last year. Rodgers is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in his first two seasons as a starter. Not even the egomaniac old guy did that.

---For the past two seasons, the same problems have hurt the Jacksonville Jaguars. They can't pass the ball well enough and they can't rush the passer. You can't have that in a passing league. They have to get a new quarterback. And despite the public talk by the staff backing David Garrard last week, don't believe it. The Jaguars will draft a quarterback early if they can next spring. The organization made a mistake giving Garrard a big contract two years ago. He is due to make close to $10 million next season. If he doesn't take a pay cut, he will be gone. The Jaguars brass now knows it can't win a Super Bowl with him as their quarterback. The problem is they don't have a second-round pick, traded away last spring for the right to draft starting corner Derek Cox, who has played well as a rookie. That means they can't address their top two needs in the first two rounds. Quarterback or pass rusher? The quarterback cures more ills, but the Jaguars have 14 sacks in 15 games. I'd still go for the quarterback.

---You have to feel for Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. He suffered a severe neck injury last spring when the Cowboys practice facility collapsed and then had an emergency appendectomy Sunday before the Cowboys game with the Redskins. DeCamillis is a good guy who has kept a good attitude through it all. When I saw him this summer during camp, he couldn't shake my hand because he still had issues from his neck surgery. Here's wishing one of the good guys a speedy recovery.

--The Bengals will have to play the rest of the way without Rey Maualuga, who suffered a broken ankle in Cincinnati's victory over the Chiefs Sunday. Maualuga has been playing well for the Bengals, and he will be missed. He's been a solid player against the run who had improved against the pass as the season went along.

---The Rams will pick first in the draft. Take a quarterback. Forget all the talk about Ndamukong Suh going first to the Rams. It's time to take a quarterback first -- if there is one they like.

---Speaking of quarterbacks in next year's draft, I still think Washington's Jake Locker will change his mind and enter the draft. He might be the first player picked. Why go back to school?

---I hate to say I told you so -- no, not really -- but I told you the Wildcat would be dead by the end of the season. Where is it? What has happened to it? It's like those Members Only jackets. Both came, looked good for a while, and then disappeared. The Wildcat is dead. Amen.

---I'm not sure the Dallas Cowboys aren't the best team in the NFC. One coach I talked to thinks the Cowboys are the best team, especially the way they're playing now.

----Still think Tony Romo is overrated? Didn't think so.

---Seattle has to replace Matt Hasselbeck. He looks old and washed up. He threw four picks in each of the past two games. They have to draft a quarterback. But who does the drafting now that Tim Ruskell is gone? If they're smart, they get a football man who came up through the scouting ranks. Somebody like Steve Keim of Arizona or Eric DeCosta of the Ravens.

----The Saints, like I've said many times, are flawed on defense. With so many good offenses in the NFC playoffs, that will hurt them in a big way. Charles Grant, one of their defensive ends, does nothing. The Bucs moved up and down the field on them Sunday. So did the Redskins a month ago, and they can't score on anybody. The Saints have three weeks to fix it. Would it shock you to see them lose next week at Carolina? If they do, the NFC Playoffs will probably go through Minnesota. Can you hear the media crying already? New Orleans or Minneapolis in January?

---I think Gary Kubiak has saved his job with the Texans. They have a lot of talent on that team. If they don't make the playoffs next season, he will be gone. That's a certainty. They do need to fix the secondary.

---Watching the Cardinals-Rams game, Arizona better hope their tackles play better in the playoffs. Jeremy Bridges and Levi Brown struggled against an injury-depleted Rams front.





Category: NFL

Since: Dec 19, 2008
Posted on: December 30, 2009 11:00 am



I’m not a Colts fan.  Truth be told, I don’t much care about whether they win or lose. But I’m moved to write a post about yesterday’s game because I hated to see what I saw yesterday, I’ve been listening to commentary on it ever since last night, and I’m astounded at the logic used to defend coach Jim Caldwell’s decision to pull Peyton Manning and other starters in the second half of yesterday’s Jets game. 

The Colts held a narrow 15-10 lead when Manning was pulled in the third quarter, and behind third-string quarterback Curtis Painter—who almost immediately surrendered the lead on a fumble that was returned for a TD and did nothing to help his team regain that lead—Indianapolis crumbled and lost 29-15, thus killing the team’s storied drive for a perfect season.

Caldwell’s decision is certainly debatable, but what’s frustrating to hear are the reasons given for supporting his decision.  Football, perhaps more than any other sport, has both fans and commentators who say stupid things in an attempt to sound smart. As a Broncos fan, I had to listen to a fair share of this when I heard so many people say Kyle Orton would make the Denver offense better because he was a conservative “game manager” and not a risk-taking “gunslinger,” and you couldn’t win championships if you depend upon a strong quarterback.  (Apparently, Brett Favre, John Elway, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger never won any Super Bowls.)  Last year, Denver scored 23 points a game and finished 8-8. This year, despite a vastly improved defense, Denver stands at 8-7. Why?  Because they’ve scored just 20 points a game. Those three points can make a huge difference in close games—like in yesterday’s 30-27 loss in Philadelphia.

Now this week, I hear a lot of “expert” wisdom about how Caldwell was smart to bench Manning because he needs to focus on winning a Super Bowl.  Okay, great.  If you think so, fine, but here are ten reasons why Caldwell’s decision was the wrong one.

1. The Colts had a chance at history.  Don’t tell me that people don’t remember that the Patriots went 16-0 in 2007.  Everyone remembers it.  They also remember the Pats didn’t win the Super Bowl.  The Colts could have been the first team ever to go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl.

2. There’s no guarantee that Manning would have gotten injured if he had finished the second half.  He’s not exactly a brittle quarterback.  In fact, he’s never missed a start.

3. If it would have been so risky to let Manning finish the game…what was he doing playing the first half and part of the second?

4. Let’s deconstruct this “perfect regular season” vs. “winning the Super Bowl” argument: Not playing letting him finish the game doesn’t guarantee the team will now win the Super Bowl.  In fact…

5. Now that Caldwell essentially threw in the towel at home against a .500, and will most likely do so on the road in Buffalo next week, the team that just yesterday morning was 14-0 and eyeing a perfect season now suddenly faces going into the playoffs on a losing streak.  Meanwhile, San Diego hasn’t lost since before the leaves turned and are headed into the playoffs with a head full of steam.  Who looks like the strongest team now?

6. Not to get all Ralph Nader here, but…professional football is a spectator sport, and the fans who bought tickets to Sunday’s game thought they had a chance to witness history.  I’m assuming their tickets did not come with a consumer warning that said: “The Indianapolis Colts organization will not try their best to win today’s game because they consider it insignificant.”

7. Tanking yesterday’s game now puts more pressure on the Colts players.  They woke up yesterday morning thinking back on their hard work in the 14 preceding games and how they had put themselves in a position to become the most heralded team ever.  Now that they’ve blown that, you can’t tell me that at least some of the players aren’t thinking, “Now that we’ve lost the perfect season, what if we lose the Super Bowl?”

8. Although they’re all saying the right things and espousing the company line, Manning and crew will now have to answer questions from now until the Super Bowl—if they make it that far—about squandering the chance for a perfect season.

9. Haven’t the Colts learned from their own history?  In 2005, the Colts pampered Manning in the final week of the season, entered the playoffs with a bye as the no. 1 seed…and were upset at home by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Playoff round. In 2006, they had to fight in their final regular season game to earn the conference’s no. 3 seed, and they went on to win the Super Bowl.  Similarly, in 1996 the Broncos earned home-field in the AFC early on and went about a month without playing a meaningful game. They rested John Elway and other starters players, lost momentum, and were stunned by Jacksonville in an upset that people still talk about in Denver. The following season, the Broncos had to win the hard way, playing tooth and nail until the final week. They entered the playoffs as a wild-card but built momentum and rode it all the way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

10. People say time will tell if Caldwell and the Colts were right.  Wrong.  Even if they go on to win the Super Bowl, we—and they—will think back and wonder “What if…?”  It would be the first tarnished Super Bowl championship in NFL history.

(And a bonus: 11. I hope Colts management doesn’t hope to get much value out of Curtis Painter in the future because, thanks to the position he was put in yesterday, he’s done in Indianapolis, forever branded as the quarterback who blew a perfect season.)

Courtesy of

Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: December 30, 2009 10:33 am

Monday Musings

I have no root as I am a giant fan so whether they played their Starters or not I don't care, but if I was a Colt fan and purchased tickets to see my team going for perfection , I would not be too happy to see the subs come in and give game to Jets. I would want a refund for that game. I spend my hard earned money and that was not entertaing for Colt fans. I now hope they sit their players against the Bills , then have a bye and lose in their first game off the bye. It would be justice.

Since: Sep 12, 2008
Posted on: December 29, 2009 3:14 pm

Monday Musings

The Saints have three weeks to fix it. Would it shock you to see them lose next week at Carolina? If they do, the NFC Playoffs will probably go through Minnesota. Can you hear the media crying already? New Orleans or Minneapolis in January?

Does he even research this crap? The Saints have two losses. The Vikings have four. Unless there's some new scheduling quirk, I don't think the Saints can lose twice next week. That means the NFC playoffs still go through New Orleans. 

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: December 29, 2009 3:04 pm

Monday Musings

To the person who compared this to the Seattle Mariners in 2001 - first, the Mariners won 116 games which tied the Cubs of 1906, but they did it in 152 games.  Second they lost to the Yankees in the ALCS and not in the first round and 3rd whether they broke the record for wins or not in the season, they still would have lost to the Yankees and would have been forgotten.  The Yankees in 1998 did the same thing, they clinched with about a month left and rested their team.  They ended up winning I believe 114 games and didn't break the record.  However, they went on to go 11-2 in the playoffs, win a total of 125 games and is considered one of the best teams ever in MLB history.  Clearly not breaking the win record took nothing away from their season and allowed them to be healthy going into the playoffs which they dominated and won the World Series.  That is the most important thing, winning a championship.  Just ask Yogi Berra if he would trade away his 10 World Series rings for having played on a team with the most wins ever.  Please.  Ask Derek Jeter what he thinks about winning the most games or winning World Series titles. 

If you asked Tom Brady whether he would have preferred to lose the last game of the year in 2007 to the Giants only to then beat them in the Superbowl and go 19-1, I think you would know what his answer would be. 

Stop whining Colts fans.  You have a great team, root for them to win the Superbowl, not be undefeated. 

Since: May 22, 2009
Posted on: December 29, 2009 3:00 pm

Monday Musings

The sentence I wrote:  "Only a true moron could miss the meaning of 19-0."

...was in response to:  "Only a true moron would say that playing backups and resting starters for the playoffs "defeats the purpose of sports"."

The blog post replies are not connected.  I normally don't call people morons, but I meant it as a response.  I think that kind of out-of-the-blue smack talk on the internet is lame.

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: December 29, 2009 3:00 pm

Monday Musings

Hands down favorite to win the Super bowl? Who have you been listening to? Just to inform you San Diego, New England,and perhaps New york Jets in the afc could easily beat the Colts. Remember the pastting the colts got from the Jets in the playoffs.42-0 I think it was.

Since: May 22, 2009
Posted on: December 29, 2009 2:53 pm

Monday Musings

Only a true moron could miss the meaning of 19-0.

There are a few of you... not many, but a few, who think that you can talk circles until Caldwell's decision is the "correct" one.  It takes something really amazing to go that far in the season without suffering a loss, and something really disgusting to throw it in the trash so carelessly and disrespectfully.

Indy fans are livid, and they won't forgot the "organizational decisions" that were made here.

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: December 29, 2009 2:49 pm

Monday Musings

Give me a break already.  What happened in the Colts game happens every year in baseball and nobody really cares.  Teams that clinch always rest their starters the last week or two if they can and you never see the top starting pitchers pitch the last couple of games.  It can always impact other teams getting into the playoffs, but so what.  It is their right to rest players so that they are fresh going into the playoffs.  If the Colts were 13-1, nobody would be complaining about it.  The real question is whether they should have pursued the undefeated season which again, is their choice.  And please stop complaining about the poor fans going to the game and paying a lot for a ticket only to see their team bench the starters.  Are you kidding me?  As fans, we want our team to win championships.  If I was a Colts fan, I would be tickled pink that my team already clinched the #1 seed and had home field throughout the playoffs.    I would also be nervous that all these other teams would be gunning for my QB to knock him down and hit him.  As you can see what happened after Manning came out of the game, the Colts are a different team with their backup QB.  Manning is the franchise and then need him healthy for the playoffs. 

As to the people that actually compared it to sitting Manning in the playoffs in order for him to be healthy next year - that might be the dumbest thing I have ever heard.  You should not be able to post any more comments based on you being so stupid. 

Hey, if the Colts lose in the playoffs, sure it will be more scrutiny for the coach, but I think he would be absolutely buried if Manning got hurt when his team had absolutely nothing to play for having already clinched the #1 seed. 

Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: December 29, 2009 2:37 pm

Monday Musings

This reminds me of the Seattle Mariners. They had a chance to have the best record in baseball, forgot the year, but the dumb @ss manager of the Seattle Mariners at the time, Lou Pinella, decided to rest all his starters with at least 5 more games to go in the regular season. In their first playoffs, they lost. Now all they can say is we tied with the Chicago Cubs for the best record in baseball history instead of being the team with the best record in babseball ever.
I'm a COLTS fan and I cried when they let the possibility of having the best record in the NFL and winning the Superbowl let it slip away even without trying. I'm still sad.

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: December 29, 2009 2:17 pm

Monday Musings

As much as I might want to see a team have a perfect season, the decison makes sense.  Granted that Peyton Manning might not have gotten injured if he played the complete game (based on pas performance), just supposed that he was hurt.  How many Indiapolis or fans arguing about the integrity of the game would have been, instead, criticising the Colts for leaving players in during a meaningless game, and how can they expect to win with a third string quarterback (their actual back-up quarterback is out); the hollering would have been even louder.  And, just suppose that all the starters played Game 15 and weren't removed and the Colts won; you'd go into game 16 in Buffalo, where bad weather is expected.  Do you want to take a chance on playing Peyton Manning or others then, under expected worse condidtions; that would be a more natural time to sit players, the last game of the season, but "how could you not let them go all out in the last game, in expected bad weather, because, you know...the undefeated record..."  Would you rather take chances then?

And who's saying that the non-starters aren't trying hard to win?  It's not as if they're playing draftees and walk-ons who know they won't make the team.  They played second tier players who probably have as much intensity and as much desire to win as the starters, and they played players who, if a starter gets hurts, will have to play a real game.  Better that they get a little playing time than taking the chance of starters getting hurt before the playoffs. 

The line of people complaining aobut sitting the starters last Sunday, would simply transfer over to complaining that the starters should have sit the moment one of them was injured.

Was it the best decision?  Maybe not, not if you're a fan that's concerned with "being undefeated when it doesn't count".  It wasn't a bad decision if your understanding is "It's not like we're playing for positioning; we're trying to keep everyone healthy."

Put me in the group that, while I might have liked to see the team go undefeated, I understand that the playoffs are more important than the regular season.  After all, only one team wins the final game of the season and it's better to be as healthy and complete a team as possible than it is to go into that game without your first team.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or