Tag:Kerry Collins
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Peyton Manning will miss 2011 season ... maybe

Posted by Will Brinson

Peyton Manning will miss all of 2011 following the neck surgery that knocked him out thus far, Jim Irsay told Colts supporters at a Super Bowl breakfast on Monday morning.

We think -- Irsay hopped on Twitter shortly after the news surrounding his announcement and attempted to clarify the situation.

"I didn't say Peyton out 4season FOR SURE,keeping him on ActiveRoster n taking it month by month/Outside chance of return n December possible," Irsay tweeted Monday after the breakfast.

The news comes just a few hours after Pittsburgh put a painful dagger into Indianapolis' early season with a 23-20 win at the Colts Lucas Oil Field.

According to WISH-TV.com, Manning will not practice again until December of this season and "may not play again until 2012."

Heretofore, the Colts have declined to put Manning on Injured Reserve; they've said that they had no plans to do so until his full 2011 season was in jeopardy. And Irsay's tweet could be an indication that Indy will keep him off of IR for even longer, although it makes little-to-no sense to try and bring him back for what already appears to be a lost season.

This news is bad, of course, but it's also not that surprising -- the idea that Manning could come back and actually play again this season seemed far-fetched ever since the Colts confirmed his September surgery.

Recent reports that Manning traveled to Europe for stem-cell therapy before undergoing his September 8 neck procedure didn't help things and now we're right where we thought we'd be sans Manning: the Colts are struggling on a week-by-week basis to be competitive.

The good news, at least, is that they've admitted the need to monitor his health long term.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: September 24, 2011 11:26 am
 

During recovery, Manning helps devise game plans

Peyton has been relegated to the press box. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

There is no timetable for Peyton Manning's return, yet he remains on the Colts' active roster. He's had three neck surgeries in 19 months, the latest coming September 8.

"I do hope to get healthy, and when I'm healthy and cleared to play, I want to be out there," Manning told the Indianapolis Star Friday. "But I'm off the clock as far as that goes. I'm just trying to follow the doctors' orders and get healthy."

For now, all Manning can do is wait. Wait for the neck to heal, wait for the doctors to okay his return to the field, and wait to save an organization that seems lost without him. But while he's relegated to walking laps around the practice field, he's not wasting time feeling sorry for himself.

"I walked around for a while angry, in a bad mood. … 'Woe is me,' " he told the Star. "I've gotten over that. It doesn't do any good. I'm learning to deal with it and trying to have a good attitude. I'm not walking around looking for any pity party."

Manning's does more than offer quarterback Kerry Collins sideline tips between series. In preparation for Sunday night's matchup with the Steelers, Manning has been helping offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen devise a game plan to slow Pittsburgh's zone-blitzing scheme.

"He's such a great resource," Christensen said, via the Star. "Nobody knows this offense better than him. He's a genius on protections. He's a genius on game plans."

There's no question that Manning would make a hell of a coach, it's just that he signed a five-year, $90 million contract in July and, at 35, he's not yet ready to call it a wrap on his playing career. For the time being, he'll have to watch the Colts play from the press box but admits that "Eventually I'd like to get back on the sidelines just to be around. You really miss that."

Yeah, we know, Peyton. We've seen the Colts without you.


After coming off a shutout victory over the Seahawks last week, the Steelers will take on the struggling Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they break down this upcoming game.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 12:37 pm
 

Stem-cell therapy for Peyton, but no Colts game

Posted by Will Brinson


Peyton Manning continues to avoid the injured reserve list for the Colts, despite recent neck surgery that certainly puts his season in jeopardy.

He also will continue to avoid the public spotlight, as Manning won't be showing up for the Colts game on Sunday. Per Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Manning has "no plans to attend" the Colts home opener against Cleveland on Sunday, based on doctor's orders.

The medical experts believe that Peyton needs to "rest his body and mind" and sitting on the sidelines for Sunday's action against the Browns would absolutely be the opposite of that. Not only would Manning get harassed by the media, but he'd be the focus of roughly 5,463 camera shots during the game.

And, of course, he'd probably pop a vein in his neck just watching the Colts offense operate in poor fashion for the second-straight week. (Jim Irsay tweeted Saturday that everyone should "Eat drink and be merry ... 4 2morrow we die!!!!!" on Saturday -- a not-so-veiled reference to how much action Joseph Addai should see Sunday.)

Manning's Pain in the Neck
Manning did some "light therapy" recently but that's not nearly as interesting as some of the news that Fox Sports' Jay Glazer dropped Sunday morning.

"Manning, prior to surgery, actually flew to Europe for stem-cell therapy that's used overseas but not yet in the US," Glazer reported.

Think about that for a second: one of two things caused Manning to cruise across the pond and undergo a medical treatment that hasn't been cleared in America. It's either a) he was desperate to try and get ready for the season, or b) his condition is more serious than we thought.

The logical answer seems that he was hustling for the start of the season and a chance to be ready by Week 1, but it's also indicative of just how problematic Peyton's neck injury is for the Colts.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 3:32 pm
 

Film Room: Colts vs. Browns preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Sometime around Thanksgiving, the Indianapolis Colts will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. By that point, their demise will have been dissected more times than the Roman Empire's. The general consensus will be that the absence of Peyton Manning (neck surgery) did them in.

Is it that simple? Actually, yes. We weren’t kidding all those years when we said this is a 12-win team with Manning and a six-win team without him.

However, many believe that the Manning-less Colts stink because they don’t have a guy audibling them into the perfect play call or throwing darts all over the field. This logic is sensible but also incomplete.
 
Instead of spending the next two months hashing out how bad the Colts are without Manning, and instead of putting up with all the armchair GM’s who crow that the rest of the Colts organization deserves some of the blame because “There are 52 other players on the roster!”, let’s be proactive and understand why, exactly, the loss of Manning dooms one of the most successful franchises in all of professional sports.

Then, we can move on and worry about the NFL’s 31 other teams.

1. Offensive Line Masking
The Colts have long had a below average offensive line. That comes as no surprise, really; with only a few exceptions (mainly at left tackle) Bill Polian has always turned to former sixth-and seventh-rounders or undrafted players to play up front.

That’s largely why Indy has been able to eat the heavy cost of having virtually all long-tenured first-rounders at the skill positions over the years (Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark).

Polian knew he could get away with a sub-par front five because his quarterback is brilliant in getting rid of the ball quickly and moving in the pocket. No quarterback over the years has made better use of the three-step drop than Manning, and no quarterback (aside from maybe Tom Brady) has better footwork in adjusting to pass-rushers.

Consequently, Manning has been sacked an average of only once per game in his 13-year career, which is about half the amount of a normal quarterback. When Manning does take a sack, it’s usually a result of execution, not misdiagnosing a defense. Thus, the hits never surprise him, which is why he almost never fumbles.

Last Sunday, Kerry Collins took three sacks and lost two fumbles.


2. The Run Game
Manning’s pre-snap adjustments did two things for the run game: They ensure that the Colts would always run to the favorable side (Manning decides at the line whether the run will be to the left or to the right) and it means the Colts run the ball out of the same personnel packages and formations from which they throw.

This prevents defenses from tracking Indy’s tendencies. It also creates a constant threat of throwing, which instills an inkling of hesitation in linebackers or safeties dropping into the box (hesitation always makes players jittery, which is partly why Manning’s play-action is so effective).

All of this prevents defenses from loading up and taking advantage of Indy’s undersized and ungifted offensive line. This often saves the Colts; when they’ve gotten away from the run-pass threat (such as in short-yardage situations), their futile ground game always has been exposed.

But now, this threat is gone, and there’s no reliable ground game to fall back on. Joseph Addai is at his best running out of passing sets (think draw plays) and Donald Brown is at his best running against college competition.

3. Helping the wideouts
The best kept secret in all of Indiana last year was that Reggie Wayne was slowing down. The numbers didn’t show it, but the film did. Wayne was not the same downfield threat he once was. He didn’t have the same burst in his redirection or tempo changes. Teams with good cornerbacks stopped rotating safety help to his side of the field. This changed the outlook for Indy’s other route combinations and forced the Colts to throw more underneath and inside.

Manning was able to recognize Wayne’s decline and adjust by either spreading the ball around or hitting Wayne earlier in his routes (when awareness and presnap alignment are more prevalent than physical execution). This is why Wayne’s yards per catch dipped to a career-low 12.2. Hitting a receiver earlier in the route isn’t normally an option, but Manning has uncanny chemistry with his wideouts (Wayne in particular).

This kind of chemistry can’t be replicated – no matter how savvy the hoary Kerry Collins might be. It’s chemistry that derives from a quarterback working with his receivers for several years and offseasons, and, more importantly, from working out of the same system all that time. Over the years the Colts have tailored their system more and more to Manning.

Even if Collins were intimately familiar with Indy’s system (which he’s not), it still wouldn’t click perfectly because it’s a system that’s custom designed for someone else. And, as we’ve already discussed, that someone else has pocket movement skills that 99.9 percent of the world’s other quarterbacks don’t have.

Without Manning’s timing and vision, Colts receivers now have to learn a new definition of "getting open."

4. The defense
The Colts have always had an undersized defense built on speed. It centers around the edge-rushing abilities of the defensive ends. Generally, as long as Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are potent, Indy’s other nine defenders just need to soundly execute basic zone concepts.

A zone-based scheme behind a traditional four-man pass-rush is the type of defense you construct when you plan on playing with a lead. More than that, it’s the type you construct when you plan on playing minimal snaps. The Colts have gotten by with having small linebackers because they’ve had an offense that can consistently sustain drives and allow those small linebackers to always be fresh.

It’s easy to say now that the Colts should have been building a stronger defense in recent years. But the salary cap doesn’t allow for that. Polian probably would have re-signed more linebackers and cornerbacks or brought in more defensive free agents…except he had to pay Manning.

5. Relevance to this week
Indianapolis’ laundry list of limitations may not be as problematic in Week 2 as it will be the rest of the season.

Many pundits peeked at the Browns’ soft early-season schedule and determined that Pat Shurmur’s club would get off to a fast start. But one of the 10,000 or so reasons that pro football is better than college football is that with pro football, you can’t simply look at a schedule and accurately predict what a team’s record will be six weeks down the road. There’s too much talent on every team, and too many dimensions to each matchup.

The Browns are amidst a massive rebuilding project – their fifth one since returning to the NFL, by the way – and might not match up well to Indy’s style. Defensively, Cleveland’s new 4-3 scheme lacks the pass-rushing talent to exploit the Colts’ subpar offensive line. The Browns linebackers also had some trouble identifying underneath route combinations against the Bengals last week – something the Colts, with Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, can surely take advantage of.

Offensively, Pat Shurmur is carefully managing Colt McCoy’s mental workload. Virtually every downfield pass Cleveland attempted in Week 1 came off some sort of play-action or rollout. In play-action and rollouts, the quarterback’s reads are naturally defined, as he only has to scan half the field. It’s a smart tactic, but it will be dicey to execute against the speed of the Colts defensive ends. Look for the Browns to ram the ball with Peyton Hillis. They’ll have to survive with one-dimensionality.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Peyton Manning not yet headed for injured reserve

Polian doesn't (yet) have plans to put Manning on IR. (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

After what the Texans perpetrated against the Colts on Sunday, Peyton Manning can't get back on the field fast enough. Unfortunately, doctors can't pinpoint a return date, which seems perfectly reasonable given that Manning just had neck surgery (his second since the spring).

FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer said earlier this week that the medical people he spoke with said Manning wouldn’t be able to take a hit for four months. Doing the math, that means Peyton might be ready in January and we all know Indianapolis won't be playing at that point in the season.

So it might make sense for the Colts to put Manning on injured reserve, right? Not yet, at least to hear team vice chairman Bill Polian explain it.

“We saved the spot for Bob Sanders last year all the way up to week 12, maybe even beyond that because the prognosis, which is just that – it’s a guesstimate the doctors give you, it’s not cast in concrete – was that Bob had a chance to make it back by the end of the season," Polian said on the team's website.

“That did not occur. What I’ve said to Peyton and what we’ve said publicly is that we will leave him on the active roster as long as the doctors tell us there’s a chance for him to come back.”

Which immediately conjures memories of this:


All that's missing is Polian sporting a bowl cut and a snazzy southwestern-inspired button-up.

After watching what happened against the Texans Sunday, and Polian scouting Andrew Luck the day before, we figured the Colts would give the season another four or five weeks, and if they continue to look like the worst team in football then they'd shut Peyton down for good. Because, really, there's no reason to rush him back to play for a team that might be 2-10, only to have him risk further injury. And Polian can't reiterate that last point strongly enough.

“It Bears very, very strong emphasis that [Manning] will not be allowed back on the field until the doctors are satisfied that he’s 100 percent and ready to go, regardless of what occurs with the season or doesn’t occur with the season. His long-term health is what the most important thing is here.”

Which is probably why it makes sense to put Manning on injured reserve now.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 6:39 pm
 

Colts president Bill Polian scouts Andrew Luck

Is it too early for the Colts to start planning for life after Peyton? (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson


Nobody was eliminated from the playoffs after the first week of the NFL regular season, but it sure seemed that way for a handful of teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, who were Peyton-less for the first time since they drafted him in 1998.

Facing division rival Houston, the Colts looked like, well, a team without a quarterback, which was no fault of Kerry Collins' who, as recently as a month ago, was resting comfortably on his couch. Also not helping: Indy's defense and special teams.

The Colts trailed 17-0 after one quarter, and were down 34-0 (!) at the half before Texans coach Gary Kubiak took it easy on a team that is accustomed to being on the winning end of blowouts. It's a sudden change of fortune for an organization that has thrived with Manning under center. In fact, since Manning arrived in '98, the Colts have been to the playoffs every season but two (his rookie campaign and 2001), including a Super Bowl title in 2006.

While we don't want to overreact after one week, it's reasonable to think that this outfit won't sniff eight wins, and if Manning misses the season while recovering from neck surgery, they'll be lucky to go 4-12. And that would likely put them smack dab in the middle of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. (Yes, we know, such talk was unthinkable as recently as a week ago.)

ProFootballTalk's Michael David Smith writes that, "It sounds crazy to suggest that the Colts could take a quarterback with the first pick in the draft nine months after giving Manning the biggest contract in NFL history. But it also sounds crazy to suggest that a team with a 36-year-old quarterback coming off a major injury would pass on a quarterback as talented as Luck."

But we're not just spit-balling here. Colts president Bill Polian watched Luck whip up on Duke last weekend.



Sports Illustrated's Peter King elaborates:

"This is what [Polian] does on almost every fall Saturday -- scout. And this year, in the wake of the possible season-ending surgery on Manning's neck, that takes on added importance," King wrote in his Monday Morning Quarterback column.

"Is there any way the Colts could be bad enough to be in the Andrew Luck derby on draft day? Very unlikely, but the team will do its due diligence. And is there any way they'd take a quarterback from the possible pool of well-regarded players -- such as USC's Matt Barkley, Oklahoma's Landry Jones or a still-to-emerge 2011 college star passer? That's more possible."

We agree: Polian is doing his due diligence. It's not out of the ordinary for him to take in a college football game, but we're less optimistic than King about the Colts' prospects in 2011. Unless things drastically change, there's every reason to think that they'll be in the conversation for the first-overall pick next April. While that doesn't do much for fans this season, Peyton's not going to play forever. And if you have to replace him, why not do it with one of the best college quarterback prospects we've seen in some time.

But perhaps we're too quick to bury this team. If you're looking for hope, coach Jim Caldwell offered it at his Monday press conference: “There is no question I believe it’s all correctable."

Feel better? Neither do we.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson



Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 1 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.



It's rather unfair to the rest of the NFL to expect a legitimate follow-up to the Thursday night spectacular that was New Orleans and Green Bay. To the extent that folks wanted drama, the most spine-tingling moments came before the action on Sunday, as the NFL and the nation honored the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

Fantastic job all around by the NFL and the various broadcast partners and the players and Reebok and everyone involved for really making Sunday a touching tribute to one of America's greatest tragedies. Can you really imagine what would have happened if there hadn't been football on the anniversary because of the lockout?

Obviously the nation would have moved on -- it's just sports. But the public relations hit would have been 100-percent inverse of the boost the league received on Sunday.

Not that it matters. There was football. And it was good and there were lots of stories. Many of whom we'll break down below. In the words of Jay-Z, "let's rock."

1. Yes We Cam
What did you expect from Cam Newton in his first start as an NFL player?

Because, no offense, but it doesn't really matter -- Newton set the world on fire en route to throwing for 422 yards and two touchdowns, plus rushing for another score.

Carolina still lost to Arizona in a close game, but that's not really important, as they're not a Super Bowl contender right now. What's important is that they appear to have finally gotten their franchise quarterback. And that makes one guy -- Steve Smith -- pretty happy.

"He was everything everybody didn't expect him to be," Smith said after the game. "He was on point, he made some great runs, he made some great reads, made some fantastic throws. He made some throws out there that honestly as a receiver it made it easy to catch them."

In case you missed it, Smith wanted out of Carolina all of last year while catching (or, if you prefer not catching) passes from Jimmy Clausen but after the Panthers drafted Newton, Smith eventually got back on board with staying in Carolina over the long(ish) haul.

It worked out pretty well for him on Sunday, because he caught eight passes for a 178 yards, numbers which should have the same effect on Smith as Newton's totals have on fans: obscuring the win-loss column.

As we noted on Sunday, Newton's 422 yards was the highest passing yardage total by a rookie, in their season opener, in NFL history. It's tied for the highest total for a rookie in any game, with Matthew Stafford's 422 in 2009 against the Browns.

And perhaps most crazy of all, it's the fifth-highest season opener total in NFL history. Not rookie history -- NFL history. Damn impressive stuff is what it was -- maybe Bo Jackson was right after all.

Newton, by the way, is already 11th on the Panthers all-time passing yards list.

2. Most Valuable Peyton

In a brutal twist of irony, while Kerry Collins was starting his first game as a Colt, stinking up the joint and causing Colts fans to start researching Stanford's schedule in 2011, he somehow managed to pass Joe Montana for the 10th-most passing yards in NFL history. That Collins did so was the lone bright spot for a Colts team that got absolutely drubbed by the Texans in the first game without Peyton Manning at the helm since 1998.

Sunday was just the second time since Indy drafted Manning that they trailed 17-0 after the first quarter, and the 34-0 halftime deficit for Indy was the largest in franchise history.

Look, everyone knows that Peyton is really good. And everyone knows that Peyton meant more to this team over the past few years than anyone could possibly imagine, and that the Colts wouldn't have won as many games as they have without him.

But is it possible to give someone an MVP award when they don't even play for an entire season simply based on how poorly their team plays without him? Of course not. If it was, though, Manning would warrant consideration in 2011 just based off what we saw in Week 1.

As for the long-term issue of Manning's health, it's really hard to imagine that the Colts would even consider trying to bring him back in 2011. There's a very good chance that by the time we get halfway through his aggressive rehab schedule the Colts are 0-4.

At that point, the season's over for all reasonable intents and purposes. By Week 8, when Peyton might be ready? Yeah, there's a good chance Indy's done then. And if they are, there's little-to-no sense in bringing him back at the risk of busting up his career to try and ruin a good shot at landing Andrew Luck.

3. The Steelers are terrible
Just kidding. But I really wanted to make sure we make at least one absolutely incorrect knee-jerk decision in this column. The Ravens might have been favored by a field goal against the Steelers on Sunday, but the consensus amongst all the experts was that the Steelers are a significantly better team, though because of the rivalry factor things would come down to a field goal in a close, bloody game.

Whoops on all counts.

Well, except the blood -- Pittsburgh strolled into M&T Bank Stadium and got absolutely stuck in the face by their rival and then spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to make the gushing stop, only it never did.

Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks and fumbled twice and the Steelers committed a whopping eight turnovers as they generally looked like a boxer against the ropes getting continually pummeled.

"That playoff taste, now it's over," Rice said. "Now we’ve got that burden off our shoulders, boom! We’re one up on them right now.”

The two biggest concerns for the Ravens coming into this season were the offensive line and the secondary.

The Ravens were mocked for their desperation in signing Bryant McKinnie shortly before the season began, mostly because McKinnie was reportedly clocking in around 400 pounds. (As reported Sunday, he's now making more money for weighing less. So that's nice.)

But he was a tremendous difference for Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, as he provided stability at the left tackle position and made some key blocks. He wasn't perfect, of course, but that's OK.

Especially because the most important benefit he provides Ravens is the ability to slot their offensive lineman in correct positions. If he's motivated, he could be a difference maker.

4. Falcons get mauled
Mea culpa time I guess: the Bears probably won't finish in last place in the NFC North. Ha. Yeah, I predicted that. They still could, and as long as that offensive line is as porous as it was against the Falcons, I'll stick by that prediction.

After all, New Orleans and Green Bay -- Chicago's next two opponents -- are not only good but they're not shy about blitzing heavily. That could mean plenty of Cutler getting tattooed six-and-a-half steps into his drops. If that.

And if Caleb Hanie has to play, the Bears will struggle mightily. But they'll have their defense which, well, yeah, per usual it's the reason the Bears are dominating.

"We still have to play up to the defense's level," Cutler said. "They're still carrying us."

Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers, in particular, were beasts on Sunday. Peppers picked up two sacks, recovered a fumble and forced another fumble that Urlacher scooped and took the house. And Urlacher himself looked particularly spry, picking up an impressively athletic interception.

I'd still argue that the Bears have the makings of the third-best team in their division, but they are the defending champs and for some reason they will just not go away. Which should mean one or two angry comments from Bears fans every week. Sigh.

5. Living the dream
Many a writer ruthlessly mocked the Eagles this offseason for hogging the headlines, particularly when backup quarterback Vince Young decided to refer to Philly's squad as "The Dream Team."

It's still a stretch and I remain adamant that the metaphor is largely irrelevant for the game of football. (Case: in point, Philly's linebacking corps wouldn't exactly be starting for most other NFL teams.)

But my goodness -- the Eagles are just as explosive as last season, aren't they? LeSean McCoy is so sneakily fast for an every-down back that you don't realize it until re-watching him take the ball around the corner, past a defender and into the end zone.

The defensive line will swarm opposing quarterbacks and obviously the combo of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson gives the Eagles the ability to score from anywhere. Seeing how Andy Reid operates in a close game going forward will be interesting though -- I saw some chatter about the Eagles running the ball immediately after Vick would get touched.

That pretty clearly, um, is a tell. And even if it's not something the Eagles are going to do every single series, it's something they have think about doing, because exposing Vick to multiple shots in back-to-back instances during games simply won't work if the Eagles want to dominate the way Vince Young expects them to.



6. These are your brother's Cowboys
They are not your father's Cowboys. And they're not even your uncle's Cowboys. These Cowboys like to score frequently and play quite well for about three and a half quarters.

And then things get tight and they choke.

The most disturbing thing about the way that Tony Romo handed the game to the Jets -- a pass intended for a gimpy Dez Bryant that Jessica Simpson could have intercepted, much less Darrelle Revis -- in typical, um, Tony Romo fashion.

As my man Mike Freeman wrote, it's precisely the kind of late-game debacling that causes people to think that Romo can't win big games or even close little games for the Cowboys.

"We win that football game if I don't do what I did," Romo said afterwards.

You simply can't fumble on the one-yard line (when a score would all but guarantee you victory) and then proceed to gift wrap a turnover for the other team when there's less than a minute remaining on the clock and the score is tied.

Going into what eventually turned out to be the final drive, Jason Garrett and Romo need to be on the same page regarding a few things. One, nothing stupid. Two, if you're going to force a pass, then you need to force the pass deep so the Jets don't get a free field goal. And three, nothing stupid.

Look, I get that the Jets used a defense designed to confuse Romo into thinking Dez was in single coverage and therefore force a ball his way. But he has lots of weapons. In fact, I was in the middle of writing how good I felt about my pick of Dallas to the Super Bowl because of their creative defense (Rob Ryan did outstanding work last night with limited manpower) and a high-octane offense so stocked with weapons that Kim Jong-Il is jealous.

All they need is Romo to put it together and stop being the stereotype that people put on him. He was doing all that until the Cowboys got in a position to put a tough road game against another Super Bowl contender on ice and he absolutely melted down.

7. Detroit hope city
Matthew Stafford's been getting pumped up all offseason long -- that he exploded in the preseason didn't help matters much, and that he was overdrafted by most fantasy football players helps even less.

So there were some funny moments in his eventual breakout on Sunday. First there was the early interception -- a pick-six by Aqib Talib -- against Tampa that made everyone realize that there were a lot of eggs in a basket. And no one really knew what the basket was built out of, except that it was probably the most fragile type of straw a man can find.

Then Stafford started going off ... except after his first touchdown pass he began cramping up. (Lots of cramping Sunday in case you didn't notice.) The world collectively held its breath as Stafford was examined on the sideline because, my goodness, it's early to be injured even if you're Stafford.

Instead, the former Georgia standout and No. 1-overall draft pick returned to the game and kept slinging teeters to Calvin Johnson, eventually finishing with 305 yards and three touchdown passes in Detroits 27-20 win over Tampa Bay.

Let's not get out of hand and start giving the Lions a playoff berth quite yet -- they certainly have problems, most notably in the secondary -- but there's reason to be excited for football in Detroit.

As long as Stafford can stay healthy anyway.

8. Rex Grossman is ... not bad?

I know, it's weird, but it might be true. Grossman appeared to be pretty darn competent most of Sunday. He threw for 305 yards on two touchdowns and backed up Mike Shanahan's seemingly inexplicable to name him the starter during the preseason.

It's not that John Beck is such a logical choice, it's just that, well, he's Rex Grossman. It seems to make no sense.

"Any typical kickoff weekend, your emotions are high," Grossman said after the game. "Being it's Sept. 11, 10th anniversary, Colin Powell's in the locker room giving you the pregame speech, and then coming out and the fans are chanting 'U-S-A.' I was overwhelmed. It was a fun day. It's a day I'll never forget."

Let's not get too high on Grossman just quite yet, because the Giants were basically trotting out a practice squad of players on defense after their starting lineup was ravaged by a ridiculous run of injuries during the preseason.

Maybe he is the answer at quarterback and maybe the Redskins could win the NFC East and maybe the Shanahans really are able to turn contaminated water into a Colt 45.

But we've seen Grossman light teams up -- like he did while tossing four touchdowns and 322 yards against Dallas in Week 14 of last year -- and immediately follow it up by laying an absolutely egg. Let's reserve judgment until we see his body of work over the span of a few weeks.

9. Go West, Young Man
We already covered Newton and his impressive rookie performance, but he wasn't the only rookie to have a big impact in Week 1.

Ryan Kerrigan returned an interception for a touchdown to help push the Redskins over the Giants, J.J. Watt terrorized the Colts defensive line, Patrick Peterson returned a punt for a touchdown that proved to be the difference maker against Carolina, A.J. Green caught the go-ahead touchdown pass for the Bengals, Randall Cobb trended on Twitter Thursday night thanks to his holy return, Tyron Smith was big on the line for the Cowboys, and Andy Dalton started out white hot … until Phil Taylor knocked him out of the game.

So yeah, very impressive week -- thus far anyway -- from an impressive group of young NFL players, especially given the shortened time frame they're working on.

10. Injured Rams
Not a great day for Steve Spagnuolo, huh? The Rams were seen by many, including yours truly, as a team on the rise in 2011. They play in a terrible division, they have anchors on both sides of the line, they have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and they easily could have been a playoff team in 2010.

But a number of injuries during Week 1 are a quick reminder of how fragile success is in the NFL.

Steven Jackson pulled his quad which has "lingering" stamped all over it, Danny Amendola dislocated his elbow and could likely be done for the year and most terrifyingly, Bradford hurt his finger.

We don't know precisely what will happen to Bradford, but there was discussion of "nerve damage," which is scary as hell. Bradford downplayed the injury after the game.

"I don't see any way I'm not going to be on the field, to be honest with you," Bradford said.

Well, here's one way: if you're at risk for a bigger injury, the franchise won't let you near the Big Apple, even it's for a matchup against the would-be hapless New York Giants.

Put an APB out for:
Charlie Weis. Because from what I saw of the Chiefs offense on Sunday, they might be missing the guy who turned Matt Cassel into a Pro Bowler, Jamaal Charles into the best running back in the NFL last year, and Dwayne Bowe into a touchdown monster. We've touched on the fact that the Chiefs had a REALLY easy schedule in 2010. That's fine. But the offense has too many weapons to be scoring seven points against the Bills and not consider "If we did X last year and we're doing Z this year and Y isn't there anymore, gee what could be the difference?"

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday ...
... Anyone ever notice that Rex and Rob Ryan really look like George and Oscar Bluth?
... 49ers punter Andy Lee posted the third-highest average for punts in one game, smoking his 59.6 yards per punt.
... How does Joe Torre -- the Yankees coach during 9/11 -- not let baseball players wear NYPD and NYFD hats?
********

Worth 1,000 Words




Hot Seat Tracker

I'm hoping to have my fancy mathematical formula to track who's most likely to get canned up and running by next week, but in the meantime, we can break down coaches in trouble pretty simply. (That's mainly because of all the first-year head coaches -- it's pretty unlikely we see a lot firings between now and next season.)
  • Tom Coughlin -- Coughlin's got a plethora of injuries to fall back on, so maybe he can buy some more time. But the way the Giants lost to the Redskins Sunday, it's hard to imagine New Yorkers won't continue the annual tradition of calling for Coughlin's head.
  • Todd Haley -- What's worse: showing up for work without wearing pants or getting beat by the Bills 41-7 at home? Gotta be the latter.
  • Jack Del Rio -- Yeah, he won, but we need people to add to this list. Plus, he beat the Titans.
  • Jim Caldwell -- The "Manning Factor" for his job will be fascinating to watch this season.
MVP Watch
Peyton! No, but seriously, in the way-too-early glance at the MVP race, I'll go ahead and throw Philip Rivers out there, since he's fourth in passing yardage right now and the Chargers are 1-0. Also: Michael Vick.

And Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What? It's Week 1.

Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:50 pm
 

Texans manhandling the Colts

K. Collins stares at the scoreboard that says Houston is dominating Indianapolis (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you thought that Peyton Manning not playing today following neck surgery wouldn’t be THAT big a deal and if you thought the Texans making Arian Foster inactive would hurt their offense, let me point you in the direction of this boxscore.

Yes, that would be Houston 34, Indianapolis 0 after two quarters of play -- the worst halftime deficit in Colts history.

Now, obviously, Manning would have no impact on the Colts atrocious defense (Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is 12 of 16 for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception; Andre Johnson has six catches for 89 yards and a score; and running backs Ben Tate and Derrick Ward have combined for 100 yards on 21 carries).

But with Kerry Collins in charge of the offense, the Colts have gained 88 yards of total offense. You can almost be assured that Manning would perform better than that, even against Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense.

To make matters worse, Collins injured his finger in the first half, but after getting it popped back into place, he stayed on the field. But even if he remained on the sideline for the second half, it’s not like Curtis Painter could do much worse.

As for the Colts defense, wow … that’s a big problem. And if Manning is out for the season with his neck problem, this first half could be a sign of bad, bad things to come for a franchise that has been so good since drafting Manning.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com