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Tag:Peyton Manning
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Franchise tag updates

Posted by Andy Benoit

While it’s still being debated whether NFL teams can use the franchise tag (the Union is saying “Go ahead – just know, it won’t mean anything”), reports started trickling out on Thursday about WHO will draw the tags.

Not surprisingly, the Colts are said to be ready to slap Manning with a $23 million tag if they’re unable to reach a long-term deal.

According to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, the Patriots will franchise guard Logan Mankins. (That should go over well – Mankins, unable to come to a long-term deal with the club last season, held out seven games).

Speaking of holdouts, earlier in the day we mentioned in Hot Routes that the Chargers might be willing to pay the $10 million it would cost to franchise tag Vincent Jackson. And the Raiders are going to tag either tight end Zach Miller or defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

All this depending, of course, on whether there even is a franchise tag.

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Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:11 pm
 

Colts, Manning's agent haven't spoken in a while

Posted by Will Brinson

Recently, Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted that there were several big announcements coming for the Colts. Presumably, one of those would/will be a new contract for franchise quarterback Peyton Manning.

However, Colts president Bill Polian told the Indianapolis Star on Wednesday that the team and Manning's agent Tom Condon hadn't spoken since January, probably since they extended a preliminary offer to the quarterback.

"It'll get done when it gets done," he said Wednesday. "We're in a very, very unsettled situation as an industry, so I don't have any timetable specifically."

In other words, it's not really a "we can't get anything done because we disagree on things" situation (like the CBA!) and it's really more of a matter that the two sides haven't been chatting.

However, that does mean that Manning's more and more likely to get franchised -- the Colts can apply the tag, which may or may not survive the labor negotiations, beginning today thru February 22nd. 

Since there's less than a zero percent chance Indianapolis will allow Manning to become a free agent, they'll absolutely use that designation, even if it means owing Manning $23 million-ish in 2011.

It's worth noting, too, that in 2004 the Colts also used the franchise tag on Manning, but worked out a new deal within 10 days of doing so. That could be the case this year as well, especially since tagging him year-after-year-after-year would be fairly pricy.

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Posted on: January 30, 2011 9:13 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 9:35 pm
 

NFC's cornerbacks on fire

B. Grimes (US Presswire) Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The NFC secondary has taken over this Pro Bowl.

You’ve got Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall, who intercepted Chargers QB Philip Rivers and then picked up a fumble from Patriots WR Wes Welker and returned it 33 yards for the touchdown. You’ve got Falcons CB Brent Grimes, who made a fantastic interception against Colts QB Peyton Manning. You’ve got Vikings CB Antoine Winfield  who intercepted Matt Cassel.

You’ve got an AFC which has only managed 57 passing yards for the first half.

OK, so most of the rest of this game has been brutal. Defensive ends are barely getting out of their stances, offensive linemen are placing just one hand on the pass-rusher (and holding them off), and there’s not much hitting.

And that’s OK. The name of the game is to have fun and not get hurt, and that’s exactly what we’re getting.

But the NFC secondary has put on a show nonetheless, particularly Hall and Grimes, leading the NFC to a 42-7 halftime lead.

For Hall, it’s a little bit of retribution for those who said he shouldn’t have been a Pro Bowler, mostly because it seemed his entire candidancy was based mostly on his four-interception second half against the Bears in Week 6.

For Grimes, it shows as validation that the four-year player, despite the fact he was challenged a league-high 119 times this season, continued to make a name for himself with 23 passes defended and five interceptions.

For Winfield – who, like Grimes, was a replacement Pro Bowler – it shows that he still plays at a high level after 12 years in the NFL.
 
Other than that, yeah, it’s a Pro Bowl. But at least the NFC secondary is making it exciting

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Posted on: January 29, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Wayne: Colts realized Manning 'not immortal'

Posted by Will Brinson

2010 was a weird season for the Colts -- at one point they looked doomed, only they managed to storm back and make the playoffs, before bowing to the Jets in the first round.

Perhaps the strangest part of it all, though, was the three-game stretch when Peyton Manning lobbed 11 interceptions. It was weird enough that it warranted Reggie Wayne telling Jay Glazer on the NFL Network (via MDS at PFT) that Manning is human after all.

"It was a shock," Wayne said. "The main thing we realized, he's not immortal. He's real. He's not a machine. It goes to show you this game is so competitive, even the guys on top can hit a wall somewhere. As a team we just stuck behind him, kept pushing, told him, 'Keep throwing,' and hope he throw it to us. And it was good, everybody stuck together and we found a way out of that rut."

Wayne also addressed his one-catch, one-yard performance against the Jets and his public comments following the loss.

"My number wasn’t called the way I wanted, but that's the way it goes," Wayne said. "I was a little upset, basically, because we took an L -- we lost -- and you feel like you didn't get your number called enough to help the team move on. It's playoff time. You want to win, you don't want to go home. It was tough for me — that was the first time I had been in that situation. But it is what it is. I've just got to keep playing ball, I guess."

Yeah, he does. And it's somewhat reasonable to complain, but it's not like Manning was given too many opportunities to just force balls into Revis Island.

On the bright side for Wayne, he's been lucky enough to play with Manning for quite some time now (and will probably wrap up his career with Peyton) and it's entirely possible that he just saw the worst stretch of the quarterback's career. In other words, it could be worse.

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Posted on: January 28, 2011 6:27 pm
 

Polian puts Ben 'up there with Brady, Manning'

Posted by Will Brinson

People who hate the Steelers will tell you that Ben Roethlisberger is the "greatest game manager of all-time." Steelers fans, upon hearing that, will throw things at whoever said it. And those black-and-gold fanatics are probably right -- Ben's a hell of a football player and ridiculously talented quarterback.

And he garnered some pretty specific praise from Bill Polian, President of the Colts, who happens to know a thing or two about decent quarterbacks.

"Bottom line, if you ask football people, they're going to put Ben Roethlisberger up there with [Manning and Brady] almost unanimously," Polian told Sam Farmer of The Los Angeles Times. "No one would leave him out. And others who have made the Pro Bowl, for example, wouldn't even get consideration if you took a poll of all 32 general managers."

Before you get upset that Polian insulted your quarterback, make sure to remember that in this day and age, 75 percent of the NFL makes the Pro Bowl, so you shouldn't be too terribly worried about whether or not your quarterback's better than Roethlisberger. (Unless that was a shot at Philip Rivers, in which case it's a little awkward.)

But the fact remains that Ben is in fact an elite quarterback. He's one of the six best quarterbacks in the NFL -- Brady, Manning, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ben and Aaron Rodgers comprise an arguable list of top-end signal callers.

And that list might get a lot more solidified (or maybe LESS solidified??) depending on what happens at the Super Bowl.

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Posted on: January 23, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Report: Colts make Manning prelim contract offer

Posted by Will Brinson

Lost in all the NFL's offseason concerns is a problem looming for the Colts -- Peyton Manning is a free agent. There's good news on that front, as Indianapolis has reportedly extended the first offer to Manning.

The deal that the Colts slid across the table to agent Tom Condon and Manning, according to ESPN, would make him the highest-paid player in NFL history. It also, reportedly, is "more lucrative" than Tom Brady's recent four-year, $72 million deal and has a bigger signing bonus than Brady's $48.5 million.

However, time's pretty limited for Indy and Peyton -- at 11:59 PM on March 3rd, the league year will end and teams will not be able to sign players to new contracts until the labor negotiations are resolved. Both sides (Manning and the Colts, that is) apparently believe a deal will be reached within the next month, but the Colts are reportedly willing to place the franchise tag on Manning, even though doing so would mean paying him more than $23 million in 2011.

Additionally, the franchise tag isn't guaranteed to survive a new labor deal, but the Colts value Manning enough that they're willing to take the chance rather than allow him to hit the open market after the 2010 season.

Part of the Colts' proposal, according to the report, involves giving Manning less money (but still making him the highest-paid player in NFL history) in order to maintain financial flexibility to bring in more outside talent and beef up the team's chances of winning another Super Bowl in the Manning era.

That seems like a pretty good angle to take with Manning -- although he's obviously one of the all-time great NFL quarterbacks, there's no question that he's aware how much his legacy would be improved with multiple titles. Given how much money he has in his bank account already (hint: a lot), it stands to reason that if he could become the highest-paid player in the NFL and beef up Indy's shot at winning, he'd be interested.

And of course, there's the matter of whether or not the Colts are wise to cough up so much money for one player. The quick answer: Yes. The longer answer: there's a very good reason why Manning has so many MVP awards -- he's really valuable. Without him, Indy could have won some games the past few years, but there's no question that he's the primary reason why they've established an AFC South dynasty over the last few years.

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Posted on: January 10, 2011 1:01 pm
 

NFL Wild Card Podcast Review

Posted by Will Brinson

This past weekend was one of most exciting wild-card weekends in NFL history.

But was it the most exciting? That's one of the questions Andy and I answer in this week's podcast review. We also debate whether or not Seattle fans should be sending such vitriolic emails, where Marshawn Lynch's powerful scamper ranks in the pantheon of all-time single runs, just how impressive Dom Capers' defense was Sunday, whether Jim Caldwell's seat should be hot, how clutch Mark Sanchez really is, and whether or not we should have seen the Ravens pummeling of the Chiefs coming.

All that (plus much,  much more) -- just hit the play button below and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Posted on: January 10, 2011 12:28 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 1:32 pm
 

10 Divisonal Round Stories Worth Your Attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. Goofy scheduling?

We can only hope that the divisional round is half as exciting as the wild card was. The NFL keeps the at-home viewer first in mind when scheduling the playoff games. But is that fan-friendly outlook coming at the expense of fairness to teams?

The schedule, which was set before the postseason began, looks like this: Baltimore @ Pittsburgh Saturday 4:30 p.m.; Green Bay @ Atlanta Saturday 8 p.m.; Seattle @ Chicago Sunday 1 p.m.; New York @ New England Sunday 4:30 p.m.

Because of when the wild card games occurred, Baltimore and Green Bay both have a six-day week ahead of them, while Seattle and New York get an eight-day week.

The NFL used to wait for the outcome of wild card games before determining the divisional round schedule (some might remember that in the ’02 postseason Bill Cowher was irked because the league gave the Steelers a Saturday divisional game after a Sunday wild card game while the bigger market Jets got a Sunday divisional game after their Saturday wild card contest).

If the Ravens or Packers wanted to raise a stink about the scheduling, they would have a legitimate argument. But the counter argument would also be legit. That counter argument? Television has made the NFL a cash cow. If coaches and players like being millionaires, they can deal with mild scheduling inconsistencies.


Baltimore Ravens (No. 5 seed; 13-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 2 seed; 12-4)


T. Suggs (US Presswire)2. R
aven D playing Ravenesque D

It’s tempting -– and rational –- to opine that the Kansas City Chiefs looked every bit like the young, untested playoff team it was Sunday. This was especially true offensively. Matt Cassel completed 9/18 passes for 70 yards and three interceptions. And, aside from a handful of impressive first half bursts from Jamaal Charles, Kansas City’s top-ranked rushing attack was unimpactful.

That said, Sunday’s game was more a case of the Ravens winning than the Chiefs losing.  Only three of Kansas City’s turnovers were relevant. All three of them were forced by Ravens defenders. The two fumbles resulted from scrawny finesse players getting blown up by thundering hits (Terrence Cody on Charles, Ray Lewis on Dexter McCluster). Cassel’s lone costly interception was a product of Dwan Landry lurking from his centerfield spot (earlier, Cassel’s first pick wound up netting a positive gain for the Chiefs because during his run back, Ravens rookie Haruki Nakamura fumbled while foolishly acquiescing to Ed Reed’s request for a lateral).

It wasn’t just the turnovers. Baltimore’s best linebacker, Terrell Suggs, and the rest of the front seven swarmed the Chiefs backfield all afternoon (Cassel was sacked three times, hit six and hurried umpteen). When the Ravens weren’t blitzing, their secondary, unafraid of a Kansas City receiving corps that boasted midweek free agent pickup Kevin Curtis as its No. 2 starter, sat in a zone and enjoyed free ball-hawking reign.

Expect defensive coordinator Greg Mattison to shy away from that zone concept against Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger is simply too dangerous when he bides time. But also expect Mattison to stay in attack-mode with his front seven, as the Steelers’ makeshift offensive line has struggled with blitz recognition at times this season.



R. Rice (US Presswire)3. Best rivalry in football
?

It’s hard to argue against Steelers-Ravens currently being the best rivalry in the NFL. Colts-Patriots is great, but aside from playoff time, those matchups have not always carried huge implications. The plethora of NFC East rivalries are fun but tend to wash each other out. The AFC West teams don’t like each other, but who cares? Bears-Packers is great rivalry from an all-time perspective, but currently, it’s only average because this is the first time since 2001 that both teams have reached the postseason.

The Ravens and Steelers, on the other hand, have been fistfighting for AFC North division titles for most of the past seven years. Their last six regular season matchups have been decided by four points or less (the Steelers have won four). In ’08, Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 23-14 in the AFC Championship. In Pittsburgh’s previous Super Bowl year (’05) they beat Baltimore 20-19 on Halloween and 16-13 in overtime in November.

These games have been like prize fights – most of which have been decided with 12th-round knockouts.



New York Jets (No. 6 seed, 12-5) @ New England Patriots (No. 1 seed, 14-2)


4. Or is THIS the best rivalry?

It depends if you view NFL coaches and players as athletic competitorsR. Ryan (US Presswire) or entertainers. Football-wise, Patriots-Jets is good but not great. The Patriots embarrassed the Jets 45-3 in the last meeting, though Rex Ryan’s Jets had won two of three before that.

It’s Rex Ryan’s personality that has given this rivalry most of its juice as of late. Months after getting his first head coaching job, Ryan famously said “I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s, you know, rings.” Just recently, Ryan complimented Peyton Manning’s work ethic by taking a jab at Tom Brady’s.

Garrulous as Ryan is, it’s that other coach -- the cranky, taciturn one -- that built the foundation for this rivalry. Recall that long before all the Eric Mangini handshake drama, Belichick was Bill Parcells’ top assistant with the Jets (’97-’99). He was nabbed as the Tuna’s successor in 2000 but announced his resignation during his introductory press conference. Shortly after that, he wound up in New England (the Jets received the Patriots’ first-round draft choice in exchange).



5. New York’s unheralded defensive lineman

Defensive end Shaun Ellis is the longest-tenured Jet (11 seasons). Aside from 14-year veteran Trevor Pryce, injured nose tackle Kris Jenkins is the most recognized name along the defensive line. Backup Vernon Gholston is the next most recognized name, but only because the former No. 6 overall pick has been a monumental bust.

The most important name on New York’s three-man line this Sunday, however, will be Mike Devito. The fourth-year pro from Maine was the primary reason that Indy’s recently-surging rushing attack was stifled Saturday night. It’s a shame there wasn’t a way for Devito’s constant penetration and destruction of interior blocking schemes to show up next to his six tackles in the box score.

The Patriots are pass-first team, though they fed BenJarvus Green-Ellis the rock at least 18 times in six of the team’s final eight games. They have the talent to block Devito -- Logan Mankins has been the most dominant left guard in football since Thanksgiving and left tackle Matt Light has some of the best feet in the game -- but every team has the talent to block the former undrafted free agent. Matching Devito’s energy and tenacity is a different challenge.



Green Bay Packers (No. 6 seed, 11-6) @ Atlanta Falcons (No. 1 seed, 13-3)


6. That Packer defenseB. Raji (US Presswire)

Second week in a row the Packer defense has been highlighted here. Did you see the job this unit did on Philadelphia’s explosive playmakers? Everyone, including Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, was expecting Dom Capers to blitz the daylights out of Michael Vick. Capers did so late in the second half, but for much of the game, he had superstar Swiss Army Knife Charles Woodson spy the quarterback. He dropped his linebackers into a safe zone coverage, which took away running lanes and Philly’s potent screen game. And, most surprisingly, Capers trusted that corners Tramon Williams and Sam Shields could contain wideouts DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin -- which they did.

What gave Capers the confidence to burden his back seven with intense coverage assignments was knowing that Eagles right tackle Winston Justice -- who was eventually benched for King Dunlap -- could not handle Clay Matthews. (It’s curious that Philly did not slide protections and align help-blockers to the right side.) Capers also correctly figured that B.J. Raji would be too much for Philadelphia’s interior offensive line to handle.

Raji will be key in Green Bay’s next game, as Atlanta employs the purest downhill rushing attack the NFC has to offer. Michael Turner broke tackle after tackle en rout to 110 yards in Green Bay’s fruitless Week 12 visit to the Georgia Dome. To prevent a repeat performance, the Packers front seven will have to get stout and adjust from Reid’s speed-oriented West Coast sets to Mike Mularkey’s power-oriented two-back, two-tight end formations.



7. Coming out party

As was suggested late last week, the Packers found a new backfield weapon in James Starks Sunday afternoon. The sixth-round rookie may be a star in the making (only time, or another 100-yard rushing performance, will tell) but the story heading into Saturday night is the man under center. Same goes for the Falcons.
M. Ryan (US Presswire)
No matter what happens Saturday, an indisputable star will be born. Or, more accurately, baptized. Either Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan is going to lead his team to a conference title game. Both are stars already, though without celebrated postseason success, the only observers who truly appreciate the young flamethrowers’ greatness are those who study film for a living or those harbor a marriage-jeopardizing passion for fantasy football.

The national notoriety these two quarterbacks receive is not quite commensurate with their level of skill. This is especially true for the 25-year-old Ryan, who will be looking to do what the 27-year-old Rodgers just did: win his first playoff game (prior to 2010, both men had 0-1 postseason records, courtesy of the Cardinals).

Ryan and Rodgers will come away as majestically illuminated stars if their performance matches the one both gave when their teams squared off in Week 12. In that game Rodgers, who threw for 344 yards, tied the score at 17 with a 10-yard touchdown strike to Jordy Nelson with 56 seconds to play. But following that, one of Eric Weems’ many outstanding kick returns wound up giving Atlanta the ball at the 49 with 47 seconds to play. From there, Matty Ice calmly completed passes of nine, four, four and three yards to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal.

Rodgers and Ryan have a similar skill set. Rodgers offers slightly better arm strength and scrambling speed, while Ryan plays with slightly more fluidity and fundamental integrity. Both will be a blast to watch, one will take that “next step” in the eyes of fans.



Seattle Seahawks (No. 4 seed, 8-9) @ Chicago Bears (No. 2 seed, 11-5)


8. Mea Culpa (sorta)

M. Lynch (US Presswire)

I have received harsh emails from two different fan bases this season: Chicago’s and Seattle’s. Bears fans called me out early in the season for saying their team’s success was a mirage; Seahawks fans called me out late last week for saying their team didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs

To Bears fans: I’m more than happy to admit I was wrong. I incorrectly believed Mike Martz would be unwilling to compensate for Chicago’s shoddy offensive line by altering his complex offensive system. Martz was shrewd in the way he employed help blockers into his pass protections and he showed admirable humility (and sensibility) in substituting a few passes for runs.

To Seahawk fans: sorry, no mea culpa here. And no mea culpa is on the way, either. Even if the Seahawks go on to win the Super Bowl, it won’t change the fact that they did not deserve to be in the postseason in the first place. I know, I know, the rules state that a division champion gets a playoff spot. So, from a technical standpoint, Seahawk fans are right when they say their team deserved to be in. But it’s a flawed system when a sub-.500 team plays in the tourney while a pair of 10-6 teams (Bucs and Giants) sit home.

Divisions are cyclical -- I get that. That’s why I’m fine with a 9-7 division champ – and maybe even an 8-8 division champ -- beating out a 10-6 non-division champ for a playoff berth. But when you talk about a losing record getting in? Sorry, the math is too ugly at that point.

Unfortunately, because the Seahawks upset the Saints (again, a well-deserved win, as Seattle clearly outclassed New Orleans on Saturday), the NFL probably won’t amend the playoff rule by establishing an eight-win minimum. If this is the case, the league will be putting too much emphasis on the postseason and not enough emphasis on the regular season. That may sound silly, but look at what an uphill battle this kind of distortion has given the NBA.

All this being said, Seahawk fans, this is your time. Make no apologies for your team. Keep gloating and boasting. And keep sending harsh emails with words like moron, idiot, loser and jackass in the subject line to any sportswriter who criticizes your club’s postseason presence. Seriously -- that’s part of what being a fan is all about. All I ask is that if you were one of the fans who, before Week 17, said that you’d prefer to see Seattle lose to St. Louis and maintain a top 10 draft position, you at least refrain from sending your hate email in all caps (some things should be left for only the true fans).


9. No extended bathroom breaks
D. Hester (US Presswire)
Better stay in the room when specials teams units take the field this Sunday. For the first time in modern NFL postseason history, we have a kick returner with three touchdowns on the season (Leon Washington) facing a punt returner with three touchdowns on the season (Devin Hester). Washington’s contributions are remarkable; midway through last season, the then-New York Jet suffered what appeared to be a career-ending broken leg. Hester has also had a resurrection in 2010, though granted, he was never injured. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in non-defensive touchdown returns, but prior to Week 3 of this season, Hester had not scored a return touchdown since 2007.

10. Quick Hits: what went wrong for the wild card losers

  • New Orleans’ sixth-ranked ’09 ground game dropped to 28th in ’10 and proved problematic down the stretch. Of course, the ground game had nothing to do with the plethora of missed tackles and blown coverages at Seattle.
  • Peyton Manning’s genius was not quite enough to overcome Indianapolis’ copious injuries (yours truly turned out to be wrong about that one). By the way, did you happen to catch Reggie Wayne’s quote after the loss? After Darrelle Revis held him to one catch for one yard Saturday night, Wayne told Mike Chapell of the Indianapolis Star, “It's bull. It's bull, man. I give everything I've got no matter what. Every day, I give it everything. And . . . one ball, that's all. I shouldn't have even suited up. I should have watched the game like everybody else. I was irrelevant."
  • Chiefs rookie safety Eric Berry looked every bit like the No. 5 overall pick Sunday. Berry – like Seattle’s first-round rookie safety Earl Thomas, in fact – might have a little learning to do, but athletically, he’s outstanding.
  • With the offense regressing in the final weeks of the season, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Eagles use a franchise tag on Michael Vick, rather than invest a long-term contract in the 30-year-old. Vick’s vulnerable health and inconsistent decision-making (wild card game aside) might give a few people in that organization a bit of pause.

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