Chicago Bears Hindsight Draft

Jerry Angelo Hindsight

Imagine, if you will, Troy Polamalu returning a fumble he forced himself for a touchdown; Aaron Rodgers lofting up 50-yard bombs with pinpoint accuracy; and Maurice Jones-Drew dissecting a defense with his explosive speed.

Now, imagine all of those things happening… with those players wearing Bears jerseys. Call it crazy if you’d like, but the draft records show that former GM Jerry Angelo had the power to make all of this possible. In hindsight. [Read more…]

Andrew Luck gets first taste of Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots rivalry

The Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots have shared what arguably has been the best rivalry in American professional sports for much of the previous decade.

Who can forget New England’s triumphs against Peyton Manning in the snow in Foxborough, Mass. during both the 2003 and 2004 playoffs? Or the epic Colts comeback in the 2006 AFC Championship game en route to Super Bowl glory?

In truth, the NFL largely has become what it is today because of these two teams (all-time great quarterbacks, as well as Bill Polian’s successful lobbying for rules changes after the 2003 AFC Championship game).

Now, though, the rivalry welcomes a new significant face: Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts are surprise playoff threats, as are opposing Miami Dolphins

If the NFL playoffs were to start next week, today’s 1 p.m. matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins, both 4-3, would decide a wild-card spot.

The two franchises were a combined 8-24 in 2011.

But their surprising presences in the postseason conversation — albeit in a weakened AFC — go to show that the nature of the NFL game (and impressive rookie quarterbacks) allow for such turnarounds if a team has underrated talent elsewhere on its roster.

That is the case with these two clubs, who according to NFL.com will participate in the first-ever meeting between two top-10 draft-pick quarterbacks with winning records at this point in their rookie seasons.

[Read more…]

Don’t Underestimate the Chicago Bears

Celebrations like this should be frequent this year for the Bears.

After the dust had settled following the Bear’s third consecutive season opening win at Soldier Field, there was only one thing going through my mind:

“The Bears are WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!”

But this time, it wasn’t as if Denny Green and the Arizona Cardinals “let us off the hook”.

The Bears couldn’t have had their opening 3 minutes go any worse if they planned to. But the following 45 minutes showed everyone what this team has the potential to do: hang points on people in a hurry, play suffocating defense, and dominate lesser opponents.

People may be quick to point out that the Colts were the worst team in the NFL last year, and that the Bears have gotten out to fast starts before only to flame out when it counts.

But Sunday’s game provided definitive signs to why this success will stick going forward.

[Read more…]

The Great Unknown: 2012 Indianapolis Colts preview

The Indianapolis Colts have endured quite the eventful — and often turbulent — offseason in 2012.

The firings of Vice Chairman Bill Polian, GM Chris Polian and coach Jim Caldwell. The hires of GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano.

The release of quarterback Peyton Manning, the greatest and most iconic Indianapolis Colt of all time, and the subsequent cuts of long-time fan favorites Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Melvin Bullitt and Dallas Clark.

The selection of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck — the franchise’s cornerstone for the future — with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

And on the not-so-bright side, the fan backlash at owner Jim Irsay and the club, particularly for parting with Manning and for announcing just weeks ago the Colts would black out home games that weren’t 100-percent sold out despite a new league rule that allows a minimum 85-percent attendance to air games.

After all this uber-whirlwind of change and drama surrounding the Colts, it’s finally, thankfully, time to play some football.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts make heartbreaking but necessary decision to release Peyton Manning

Nobody — nobody — wanted it to end this way.

Not you or me. Not Indianapolis Colts fans, who are sure to be divided — many of them irate — about the franchise’s decision to part ways with Peyton Manning. Not Manning himself. Not owner Jim Irsay, who undoubtedly will be the recipient of the aforementioned fan ire. Not Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz, who was among the first (if not the first) to opine that parting ways with Manning was the only decision that made sense for the franchise and subsequently became an easy target for angry Colts fans as someone who was running the four-time MVP out of town.

Nobody wanted it to end this way.

But it must.

With the official announcement — a joint one — that the Colts will release Manning after 14 seasons with the club coming at noon today, the news we’ve been expecting really hits home. And it hits home hard — for many reasons. But as heartbreaking as it might be to see the departure of someone who essentially put football on the map in Indiana, there was just no way around it.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts’ New GM Faces Decision on Jim Caldwell

We’re nearly five days into the Ryan Grigson era in Indianapolis, and the Colts’ new general manager should be about ready to make the call on the first of many crucial decisions this offseason.

Grigson, the former director of player personnel with the Philadelphia Eagles and an Indiana native (Purdue alum), is expected to decide either today or in the next couple of days whether to retain incumbent head coach Jim Caldwell or to complete the housecleaning and move forward with his own guy.

With huge decisions looming later in the offseason, particularly whether to keep or release quarterback Peyton Manning and whether to do the same (or re-sign) so many high-profile Colts players, the Caldwell decision might seem simple. It’s not, though, and it could have an effect on some of those decisions down the road.

[Read more…]

Eventful Two Days Lead to Clean House for Indianapolis Colts

Wow. Never mind suggesting what an emotionally draining season 2011 has been for the Indianapolis Colts.

The last two days have been taxing enough.

Entering Sunday’s season finale at Jacksonville, the Colts were a once-proud franchise fallen from grace, a putrid roster bereft of its four-time MVP quarterback to mask its deficiencies and a trainwreck of an organization at the hands of Bill and Chris Polian.

By sundown Monday, the franchise was swept clean of Polian reign, had entered the market for a new general manager and now appears set to move forward with a new vision, very possibly with a promising young signal-caller.

The Colts’ loss to the Jaguars netted Indy the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft, and Colts owner Jim Irsay made it official the next day that Bill Polian, who has had quite the run as an executive in Indianapolis and elsewhere, and his son Chris, the team’s general manager, would be relieved of their duties with the organization.

What a couple of days.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts Shine in Defeat, Fall to Pittsburgh Steelers

The Indianapolis Colts indeed fell to 0-3 Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium as many predicted they would.

I’m sure few people, however, predicted that a loss that dropped the Colts to 0-3 would feel so good.

The Colts put forth a stellar effort on the field and pushed the Pittsburgh Steelers to the brink in a 23-20 loss. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kicked a 38-yard field goal after a late drive by Ben Roethlisberger to seal the deal with four seconds to play.

But what an encouraging and much-needed display by the Colts, even with the end result.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts Enter Great Unknown Against Houston Texans

Reality has set in for the Indianapolis Colts and their fans.

Peyton Manning will not be behind center after starting a total of 227 consecutive games for the franchise.

Sixteen-year veteran Kerry Collins will take the snaps for the Colts for the foreseeable future, starting with today’s season-opening bout against the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium.

The Great Unknown.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts Get Active, Sign Tommie Harris and Other Defenders

The Indianapolis Colts have taken pride in their organizational philosophy — build through the draft, re-sign your guys and stand pat during veteran free agency — often to the dismay of their fans.

Well, after the first two days of Colts training camp in Anderson, Ind., the franchise sent a message to those fans: Here you go.

Indy brought in three outside veteran defensive players — former All-Pro defensive tackle Tommie Harris and former top-10 draft picks, linebacker Ernie Sims and defensive end Jamaal Anderson — on one-year contracts.

My take? Low risks, potentially nice rewards. Oh yeah, and now those angry fans can finally hush.

[Read more…]

Indianapolis Colts-New York Jets Primer

jenn-sterger-jets

It sure has been a long week, but Wild Card Weekend is finally upon us.

After days of anticipating and listening to New York Jets coach Rex Ryan elaborate on his personal vendettas, the AFC playoffs get underway Saturday at 8 p.m. as the No. 3-seeded Indianapolis Colts (10-6) play host to Ryan’s No. 6-seeded Jets (11-5) at Lucas Oil Stadium in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game.

The Colts beat the Jets 30-17 last January to advance to Super Bowl XLIV, and the outspoken Jets coach let it be known earlier this week that he wants revenge, not only for last year’s loss but also for his history of suffering defeats at the hands of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning is 5-1 against Ryan’s defenses, dating back to when the New York head man served as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. The one victory came in Week 16 of 2009 when Indianapolis chose to pull its starters in the third quarter rather than continue to chase an undefeated season. Therefore, one might say Manning is perfect against Ryan’s defenses in meaningful games.

That certainly explains why Ryan wants this win Saturday. But will the Jets be able to pull off the road upset, or will the Colts continue their mastery of Ryan’s teams? A few key areas of interest clear the picture a bit.

The quarterbacks

Not much explanation is needed on the Colts’ side. Manning, one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, is coming off a regular season in which he completed a league-record 450 passes for a career-high 4,700 yards. He is 9-9 all-time in the playoffs but has beaten Ryan’s defenses both times he’s faced such units in the postseason (2006 AFC Divisional contest against the Baltimore Ravens and last year’s AFC title game). Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez played extremely well in the first half when the two teams last met in Indianapolis, but he couldn’t keep up with Manning and the Colts’ offense once they rallied. Sanchez has thrown for 3,291 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, but on the whole, he hasn’t shown much improvement from his rookie campaign. Whether he can throw with Manning will go a long way to determine New York’s chances.

Other key matchups

  • The Jets’ offensive line vs. the Colts’ defensive front seven. It’s become quite clear what the Jets like to do on offense: run the ball. However, New York’s rushing attack has seemed to regress down the stretch. One can point to running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s wearing down midseason, but fellow rusher Shonn Greene also has struggled to gain yards on the ground. Indy’s run defense, on the other hand, has improved dramatically in the last month of play, holding Jacksonville, Oakland and Tennessee, all teams with heralded running games, to less than 100 yards rushing. If the Colts’ defensive unit can contain the Jets’ ground attack and force Sanchez to make plays with his arm, the key matchup becomes New York’s tackles against Indy’s speedy pass-rushers, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Stopping the run will be the first order of business for the Colts on defense.
  • Colts receiver Pierre Garcon vs. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. I’ve been hearing a lot of commentary on how the Jets were “one corner away” from avoiding the onslaught that Manning and the Colts’ offense executed in the second half of last year’s AFC Championship game. Well, they’ve got another one in Cromartie, who has a favorable history against Manning. He intercepted the Colts quarterback three times in a regular-season contest in 2007 and then once in a rematch in the playoffs following that season. Garcon has big-play ability but tends to drop passes when covered tightly. While New York’s No. 1 corner, Darrelle Revis, figures to spell Indy’s Reggie Wayne, keep an eye on the Garcon-Cromartie battle on the other side. It could go a long way in determining Manning’s — or Cromartie’s — ability to break the game wide open.
  • Colts’ Jacob Tamme and Blair White vs. Jets’ linebackers. Manning did much of his damage in last year’s meeting in the middle of the field with tight end Dallas Clark and receiver Austin Collie. Both are lost for the season, and Tamme and White, respectively, take their positions. Both have done well in general, but can they be as effective against a strong group of Jets linebackers? Watch Tamme in particular. Manning has developed a trust in the third-year tight end as his play is quite similar to that of Clark. Tamme has quietly ranked among the league-leading tight ends in receptions.