Tag:Dwight Freeney
Posted on: November 9, 2010 4:43 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2010 4:44 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Delightfully average

Miami, despite what the sign says, has been delightfully average this season (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re halfway through the season, which means we get plenty of first-half best-of lists from every corner of the Internet. Which, don’t get me wrong, is totally cool. In fact, here are two well-done lists – one from our own Pete Prisco and one from our own Clark Judge .

Or you can go snarky and talk about the worst of the worst through the first nine weeks of the season (Cowboys, Bills, Panthers, etc.) That’s fine too. I certainly don’t mind a worst-of list every now and again. As long as I’m not on it.

But I’ve decided to play to the middle: how about an award for the Most Delightfully Average (fill-in-the-blank)? I think this needs to happen, because, really, most of us in life are pretty average (present company excluded, of course. I’m talking about those other people that aren’t reading this article – which, by the way, is far above delightfully average).

There are a handful of us that are really, really good at what we do, and there are some of them who are absolutely terrible at their jobs. Yet, most of us fit somewhere in the middle. That said, here are the most delightfully average awards from the first half of the season.

10. Average offense – Bengals: They rank 15th in yards per game (345.0) and 17th in points per game (20.9), and despite the terrific addition of WR Terrell Owens (who would have guessed we’d be saying that a few months back?), the offense seems stuck in mud. Much of it rests on QB Carson Palmer’s arm, because he has plenty of weapons around him. He just hasn’t been very good.

9. Average defense – Colts: For a potential Super Bowl contender, this defense sure is mediocre. In order to go far in the playoffs, the Colts will have to improve on their 344.6 yards allowed average (20th in the NFL), their 21 points allowed (tied for 14th), and, in particular, the 140.9 rushing yards allowed (29th). Not having S Bob Sanders or his replacement, Melvin Bullitt, because of injury hurts the secondary, but the defensive line, even with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, has just 17 sacks. Which ranks, you guessed it, 16th in the 32-team league.

8. Average quarterback – Jay Cutler, Bears: When you think of Cutler, you might rank him somewhere near the bottom of the quarterbacks list. Perhaps that’s because, whenever the Bears are playing on national TV, he always seems to be throwing four interceptions per game or taking a big-time pounding from the opposing linebackers. Plus, he has that sour look on his face that probably just makes you sad. But no, Cutler ranks 16th in passer rating, 18th in passing yards, 19th in touchdown passes, 12th in interceptions and 19th in completion percentage. So, he’s simply stuck in the middle.

7. Average running back – Brandon Jackson, Packers: After Ryan Grant was placed on the IR list following an ankle injury, it was left to Jackson and John Kuhn, the only two running backs remaining on the roster, to try to replace his production. Jackson has been fine, though unspectacular. He rushed for 115 yards in Week 5, but he averages 4.3 yards per carry for a Green Bay rushing game that ranks 20th in the league. QB Aaron Rodgers probably wouldn’t mind a little more assistance.

6. Average wide receiver – Michael Crabtree, 49ers: I’m sure this is what San Francisco expected when it took him with the 10th overall pick in 2009 and then waited as he embarked upon an extended hold-out. On the season, he ranks 32nd in the NFL with 31 catches, and he averages 12.4 yards per reception (just kind of meh). One silver lining to Crabtree’s game, though: 80 percent of his catches go for first downs.

5. Average fans – Bengals: There wasn’t much analysis with this one. I just went down the list of total attendance by percentage of seats sold, and at 98.0 percent, Cincinnati was No. 16 (No. 1 is Dallas at 108 percent?!? (Wade Phillips must have been REALLY popular in the Big D); No. 32 is Oakland at 71.6 percent).

4. Average saliva-tosser – Le’Ron McClain, Ravens: If you’re going to spit into somebody’s face, you either have to be discreet or you have to go all-out (think Roberto Alomar spitting into John Hirschbeck’s face (I can’t believe that I didn’t have to look up the umpire’s name to make that analogy)). McClain did neither. He wasn’t discreet, you see his face move forward forcefully toward Miami’s Channing Crowder in the video, and he didn’t just hawk the loogie like Alomar did. Really, just an average performance.



3. Average division – AFC South: If the NFC South (with three teams at 5-3 or better) is the best division in the NFL and if the NFC West (nobody better than .500) is the worst, the AFC South has to be the most average. The Colts and Texans are tied for first place at 5-3, while the Jaguars and Texans are tied for last with 4-4 records. All of these teams have shown major flaws during their quest to compete for a division crown. I don’t think the Jaguars have much of a chance, but of the other three, I really don’t have any idea who will make the postseason.

2. Average coach – Gary Kubiak, Texans: Three weeks ago, there’s no way Kubiak would have “won” this award. Behind Kubiak, the Texans surprised the Colts in the opener with a big victory, and despite losing to Dallas (who in the hell loses to the Cowboys, anyway?), Houston was 4-2. But the Texans have lost their last two, and for some reason, Kubiak forgets about RB Arian Foster at times while his defense plays horribly. Once again, the Texans might not make the playoffs, meaning Kubiak might be gone at the end of this season.

1. Average team – Dolphins: Miami has been a rather tough team to pin down this season. Sometimes, the Dolphins look very good, using a tough defense to beat the Vikings and Bengals, or being resilient enough to upend the Packers. Other teams, they look absolutely horrid (last week’s 26-10 loss to the Ravens, and the 41-14 debacle to the Patriots). It feels like Miami should be better, but in the end, the Dolphins are humbly – and delightfully – average.

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Posted on: November 9, 2010 11:16 am
 

Hot Routes 11.9.10: Did Freeney quit?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- Eagles TE Brent Celek said Philadelphia’s offense made Colts DE Dwight Freeney quit during their game Sunday afternoon. Said Celek: When we were chipping and blocking Freeney, it was getting to the point where he was ready to give up on the field. He was so frustrated and mad.

- Next up on Eric Mangini’s hit list after knocking off former boss Bill Belichick last week: the Jets, the team that fired him two years ago.

-`And speaking of New York-Cleveland, Braylon Edwards is already talking smack to Browns fans about returning to Cleveland this weekend with the Jets. 

- Patriots PK Stephen Gostkowski likely will miss the next two games. No worries. They’ve got Wes Welker, after all. Just kidding. They’ll sign another kicker sometime this week.

- And speaking of kickers, Jets PK Nick Folk = Donovan McNabb.

- The no-huddle offense worked wonders for the Vikings on Sunday. Maybe they should consider doing that more often.

- Somebody out there is a pretty big Jacksonville Jaguars fan. And she’s pretty hardcore.

- I had no idea, but apparently, Kurt Warner is still alive on “Dancing With the Stars.”

- A StarCaps update for you. The Supreme Court will not be taking a look at the case.

- Ray Rice probably shouldn’t be boasting about the way he gets out of speeding tickets.

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Posted on: November 5, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 10:56 am
 

Key Matchup Week 9: Colts-Eagles QBs vs pass rush

Posted by Andy Benoit


The Colts-Eagles game this Sunday (CBS 4:15 ET) gives us a chance to pull the mask off oneP. Manning (US Presswire) M. Vick (US Presswire)of the greatest farces in the NFL. Thanks to Michael Lewis’ The Blindside, many fans believe you need a dominant left tackle in order to win in today’s NFL. Not true.

The reality is, a great quarterback can overcome just about any pass protection issues. We often think of mobile quarterbacks in this instance. And, obviously, Philadelphia’s Michael Vick is the poster child here. Indeed, early in the season, we heard again and again about how Andy Reid would choose Vick over Kevin Kolb because Vick had the athletic ability to evade pass-rushers who would shoot through Philly’s porous offensive line. This thinking is certainly logical (we’ve all seen Vick make spectacular plays when having to flea the pocket), but it’s also a tad under-baked.

Will Vick’s mobility be important this week against speedy Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? At times, yes. But the Eagles aren’t going to rely on it. Eagles coaches know that left tackle Jason Peters is coming off a knee injury and struggles with pass protection technique. They also know that right tackle Winston Justice does not have the lateral agility to handle Robert Mathis’ dip-move around the edge. Thus, look for the Eagles to employ frequent double-tight end formations, and to align receivers and running backs close to the edge of the front five in order to help chip.

Why would the Eagles help their tackles in protection if they have a quarterback who can simply scramble away from the Colts ends? Because as valuable as scrambling can be, the best way to elude a pass rush is to play with poise in the pocket.

Enter Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Famer runs like he’s wearing ski boots. And his left tackle was a sixth-round pick in 2006 who would be a utility backup on just about any other team. Yet Manning almost never gets sacked. Thank his poise in the pocket.

Poise in the pocket can mean different things. Sometimes it means getting rid of the ball in a hurry. Other times it means holding the ball a split second longer even when your protection is breaking down and you know you’re going to get drilled the second you finish your throw. Often times it means taking a six-inch step forward or a two-foot step to the side in order to subtly elude a pass-rush and give yourself room to operate.

This skill takes outstanding footwork and throwing mechanics. It’s a skill Manning has mastered and one that so many coaches have tried so very hard to instill in Vick. While improved, Vick is still far from masterful in this department. And he does not have the command of Philly’s playbook the way Manning does of Indy’s. It’s this command that allows for Manning’s quick decisions, which allows for the Colts to live with a Trent Cole-on-Charlie Johnson mismatch.

The Eagles don’t have the luxury of simply living with this type of mismatch. Vick takes longer to process information and has rougher mechanics. Thus, he needs a cleaner pocket than Manning. The Eagles can give it to him, but they’ll have to compromise some of his receiving targets. This means fewer weapons for Colts defenders to worry about, which means Colts defenders can now be more deceitful before the snap and more aggressive after it.

As you can see, it’s a domino effect. But the first domino is not actually the left tackle – it’s the quarterback.

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Posted on: November 2, 2010 12:28 am
 

Colts still the best in the AFC South

M. Hart was a big reason for Indianapolis' success against Houston (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Remember when the Colts lost to the Texans in the season opener and, then, to the Jaguars in Week 4? Remember when we thought that, especially after losing to a couple AFC South rivals, Indianapolis was in danger of not defending its title crown.

The Colts were 2-2 and in trouble. The Texans were finally ready to take over this division.

The way Indianapolis performed tonight in its rematch with Houston, though, those thoughts have quickly been put to rest. The Colts still are the favorites in the AFC South. The Texans still have plenty of work to do in order to make the postseason for the first time, and they’ll have to wait yet another season before they can hope to score their first win in the state of Indiana.

Indianapolis, with its 30-17 win against the Texans tonight, improved to 5-2 and took up residence in first place in the AFC South.

And how did the Colts do it? Like normal. With Peyton Manning, even with a number of starters hurting, making the offense run smoothly and with the defensive ends, particularly Dwight Freeney, eating alive the opposing quarterback.

Manning was 26 of 45 for 268 yards and two touchdowns, and he had some help from RB Mike Hart, replacing the injured Joseph Addai and starting over backup Donald Brown. Hart had 12 carries for 84 yards, and, oftentimes, looked electric. And despite missing TE Dallas Clark, placed on Injured Reserve last week, Manning showed good chemistry with TE Jacob Tamme, who caught six passes for 64 yards and a score.

"Whoever steps on the field with him, he finds a way to get them the football,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said in the postgame news conference.

Meanwhile, Freeney had two sacks, and LB Clint Session was dominant in the middle of the field. And with the Texans driving late in the fourth quarter to try to make it a one-score game, Freeney, once again, beat Houston LT Duane Brown and strip-sacked Matt Schaub, forcing the fumble as the Colts recovered.

Sure, the Texans would have liked to run the ball more. Arian Foster was an absolute monster the last time these teams play, but Houston fell behind 14-0 early and needed to try to catch up immediately. Still, he finished with 102 yards on 15 carries (and caught nine passes for 65 yards).

Still, it clearly wasn’t enough. Still, the Colts clearly are the class of this division. Still, nothing has changed.

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Posted on: October 13, 2010 2:28 pm
 

Terrell Suggs denies getting paid by agent

Posted by Will Brinson

Yesterday, the, ahem, mess hit the proverbial fan when Sports Illustrated published an upcoming feature in the magazine entitled "Confessions of an Agent" -- if you haven't read it, you should do so now.

If you're short on time, though, the gist is that a lot of specifically-named players got money from agents while in college.

One of those players is Terrell Suggs, but he denied receiving any money from his agent, Gary Wichard, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.

"I wish I had seen some of it, I swear," said Suggs. "I didn't get nothing. From what I heard was going on, people were getting cars and checks and stuff, I was like, 'Yo, my dumb ass is really under the rug.' Nah, I don't even know what's been said. I didn't get no cake. I wish I was getting some cake.

"Hey, it's hard in college, know what I mean. Gary Wichard didn't give me s***. He didn't give me anything. I wish I had known this was going on. Like I said, I never heard anything about it. I guess I'll have to read about it."

Suggs at least was willing to comment on the allegations -- many a player declined to say anything when asked by SI. He also said that his decision to sign with Wichard related to the agent already representing top pass-rushers like Jason Taylor and Dwight Freeney.

But because the whole "money under the table" issues is the definition of a "he-said/he-said" scenario, there's no real way to affirmatively say whether or not someone took money from an agent. The downside for someone like Suggs is that because of the culture surrounding elite college players and agent and all the problems stemming from said culture recently, the public mood is much more "guilty until proven innocent" than you might typically see.
Posted on: October 3, 2010 9:46 pm
 

A special win for the Jaguars

J. Scobee celebrated after kicking his 59-yard game winning field goal (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When Jacksonville PK Josh Scobee’s 59-yard field goal barely sailed over the cross-bar as time expired and into the Jaguars mascots arms, the jubilation could begin. Scobee yanked off his helmet and ran screaming around the field.

"I've never been that excited to hit a field goal in my life,” Scobee told reporters after the game, including Rapid Reporter Jim Nasella.

You can forgive his excitement. For a team that has faced much adversity this season – tepid fan support, a coach in Jack Del Rio whose backside was beginning to feel rather warm, a QB situation that is stomach-churning, a defense that hasn’t been impressive and a squad coming off the worst back-to-back beatings in club history – beating the Colts was a moment of pure joy.

Much of the credit must go to RB Maurice Jones-Drew (26 carries, 105 yards, one receiving TD and one rushing TD), but QB David Garrard had quite a game as well. He was 17 of 22 for 163 yards and two scores, and he led the Jaguars on a last-minute, 59-yard drive that set up Scobee for the game-ending heroics.

"Jacksonville did a good job of controlling the clock,'' Colts WR Reggie Wayne said. "Nothing you can do, the guy (Scobee) boomed it.’’

Plus, you can’t forget the offensive line, which kept Garrard upright and shut down the Colts fearsome pass rush of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

More than anything, it was simply a special win for a team in desperate need of one.

“It was a great moment in that locker room,'' Del Rio said. "I said, 'Guys you want to savor this. You want to get together tomorrow and enjoy it.'”

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Posted on: September 16, 2010 9:33 am
 

Hot Routes 9.16.10: Video killed the NFL star

Got a link for the Hot Routes ? Follow us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) or drop it in the comments.
  • We've been discussing how "locker room spies" are beneficial to their new team (although Eric Winston told me he doesn't think Kyle Shanahan will make that big of a difference) and the Giants have the best one of all in Jim Sorgi, who was Peyton Manning's backup for quite a while. (Of course they also have, you know, his brother Eli Manning, but he doesn't know the Colts offense.) Sorgi, however, doesn't think it'll matter. Because it's Peyton.
  • One of Brian Bassett's readers noticed that Kris Jenkins had a tough time making it up the stairs at Cortland. Provided this account is true, well, it kind of makes it seem like he shouldn't have even been on the field for Week 1. Or we should have seen another injury coming.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 3:07 pm
 

Packers-Colts preseason action: what/why to watch

Posted by Andy Benoit

Some of us are picking these two teams to square off again in Dallas this February. We won’t go so far as to dub any preseason contest a “Super Bowl preview”, but suffice it to say, there are plenty of reasons to watch tonight’s Packers-Colts game (8:00 ET, ESPN).
For one, this is the third preseason contest for both teams. Thus, we’ll see somewhat intricate gameplans and starters on the field for most of the first three quarters.

Second, we’re talking about two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, and two defenses that have the stars to create intriguing matchups within the matchups: Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis against Green Bay’s veteran offensive tackles; Charles Woodson, the multi-tooled X-factor in Dom Capers’ defense, against Peyton Manning; Colts first-round rookie defensive end Jerry Hughes against Packers first-round offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga in the second half. P. Manning (US Presswire)

This game will also be an important audition for several Packers. Daryn Colledge is looking to solidify his hold on the left guard duties (this will be the third year in a row, and fourth time in five years, that Colledge has successfully held his starting job after being seriously challenged for it in camp). If he struggles, we might see Bulaga or Allen Barbre thrown back in the mix.

With Al Harris still on the mend (knee) and unlikely to be ready come Week 1, Brandon Underwood, Pat Lee, Sam Shields and Jarrett Bush are competing for the No. 3 cornerback job.

Several Packer linebackers are posturing for playing time. If the season were to begin today, the starting lineup would be: OLB’s Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, and ILB’s A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett. Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop have both been in the mix, though Chillar appears set as the versatile nickel backup, while Bishop, much to his chagrin, finds himself having to once again scrapping for a role after Hawk took back the starting ILB job.

P.S. Packers-Colts isn’t the only preseason game tonight. There’s also Rams-Patriots in New England. That game is not nationally televised, so this is a moot point for most people, but there is an obvious reason to watch this one (besides it being the third preseason contest for both teams): Sam Bradford is starting.

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