THUNDERING BLURB » Indianapolis Colts http://thunderingblurb.com ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:30:31 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.1 en hourly 1 NFL Late Hits http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/11/nfl-late-hits/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/11/nfl-late-hits/#comments Mon, 16 Nov 2009 15:40:12 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=805 I’ve been throwing out my thoughts on Monday mornings on Twitter and will probably continue to do so, but felt like a proper article makes a ton of sense.

With that in mind, welcome to NFL Late Hits, my new Monday article here at The Thundering Blurb. It won’t cover everything that happens in the NFL on a Sunday, just the stuff that for whatever reason sticks in my brain by day’s end.

Two huge plays yesterday have caused some chaos in the NFL media and Fantasy Football community – one was the 4-2 call to go for it by Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, the other, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew taking a knee at the one to milk the clock in the Jets game.

Let’s start with the call by Belichick. I’ll admit, I didn’t see it when it happened.

I did discover a new food allergy so, you know, win!

Instead, I went over the hightlites and looked over the game info at NFL.com. I can’t say I thought it was the best call, but I’m not sure it’s the worst ever.

Say what you will, but Belichick goes on fourth pretty often and it works out for him more than most coaches. I may be remembering wrong, but on NFLN last night, I believe Mariucci said it worked somewhere in the neighborhood of 78% of the time for him.

It’s not a bad percentage – on the other end of the field.

Look, Belichick has forgotten more about football in the time it took me to type this sentence out than I know now. So I’m sure he had all the facts, figures and percentages in his head when he made the call.

I just don’t know why you risk giving Peyton Manning the ball on your side of the field.

A great coach rolls the dice. Sometimes you hit the point, sometimes you crap out. Like The Hoodie said in his press conference, people will question you anyway.

I think it was a bad call. I also think the media shouldn’t be pulling their hair out over it.

Especially since, had the Pats made it, we would have had another round of ‘This is the kind of GENIUS which has made him so successful’.

A little perspective please.

Speaking of perspective – ok, so if you lost your Fantasy Matchup because Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee on the one yard line, you might want to skip a few paragraphs to where I chat about Brian Westbrook.

This was the right call. Could Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee have biffed the extra point kick? Sure. It happens less than 2% of the time, but like the man said ’so you’re saying there’s a chance?’.

Listen, when people say Fantasy Football is ruining enjoyment of the game, it’s because of reactions like this.

Scobee – shaky though he has been – wasn’t missing that kick. A short, high, kick is very hard to block. I know it cheeses you off not to get the 6 points but the Jags needed to milk the clock.

Whether reports are true that Head Coach Jack Del Rio called for a knee prior to the play or not, it was the right decision.

Seemingly overlooked in the ‘DAMMIT MJD YOU COST ME MY GAME’ shouting was the fact that Jones-Drew picked up the first down. That game was done. They could burn the clock all the way to the wire (which they did) and kick a ‘gimme’ field goal (which they also did).

It’s a no brainer. Sure, like Belichick’s call above if something bizarre had happened and the Jets had gotten the ball back and won, it would look foolish.

But the best way to finish a game and win is to keep the ball out of the hands of the opposing offense’s hands. They did that. As much as I don’t love the thought of Mark Sanchez having to lead his team 80 yards to a win, all it would have taken was a missed tackle and the Jets could have walked away with a win.

Why take that chance? Keep the ball in your hands as long as you can. Milk the clock. Kick the field goal.

It’s maddeningly simple to me, as it was when Brian Westbrook did it previously.

Hell, MJD even apologized to you which he really didn’t need to. Of course he admitted he had himself and screwed himself too, but also pointed out that hey ‘you play to win the game’.

Side note: With players owning themselves and other players in leagues that often deal with pots of prize money, is the league going to come down on this as gambling?  I know the arguement has been Fantasy isn’t gambling, but you have to wonder if the NFL worries.

Things didn’t go all that well for the guy who last took a knee at the line either. Brian Wesbtrook suffered his second concussion in less than a month yesterday and you have to start thinking we’re seeing the end of him in the NFL.

Listen, I’m no doctor – in fact I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night – but twice in a month is bad. In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s awful.

The more often you get them, the more easy it is to get them. More than one player can testify to that and with the recent discussion in the media and NFL circles about head injuries and their long term effects I cannot imagine the Eagles rushing him back out there.

Especially not with LeSean McCoy there. I mean, isn’t this what you picked him for?

Maybe not, if you run a grand total of 13 times.  The Eagles only threw to the backs a total of five times as well.

Sure, they were down and yes they moved the ball through the air effectively in the fourth quarter. Still, there was never a threat that they were running the ball – I wonder if the success moving the chains via air freight than on the ground says more about deficiencies in the Chargers secondary than the Eagles pass attack

Either way, one hopes the Eagles – and Westbrook himself – are very cautious this time out.

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Running Back Camp Battles to Watch Part 1 http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/06/running-back-camp-battles-to-watch-part-1/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/06/running-back-camp-battles-to-watch-part-1/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2009 14:28:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=438 While OTA’s are winding/have wound down, the NFL does not sleep. While the players get what passes for a vacation, media does not, especially since Brett Favre can’t make up his damned mind.

In perfect universal symmetry, neither can the Vikings. Marriage made in heaven or hell? We’ll find out soon enough.

In order to get you prepped for tons of footbally goodness at the end of July, I’ve decided to break down some of the more interesting running back battles to watch in July and August.

This is what happens when you drive cross country folks. You fill time.

This is also not to say that there won’t be battles we don’t see as important now, emerging down the pike as intriguing. But for now, these are ones that stand out as important immediately.

Without further ado (or more ado than usual at least) here are the Training Camp Battles to Watch: Running Backs.

Carolina: There is a ton of assumption going on here after DeAngelo Williams went off in 2008. We know John Fox loves to hang with his long term vets and you have to figure Williams earned some consideration. Still, Jonathan Stewart was able to score 10 TDs even with Williams numbers, so Fox is willing to work him in. Where this gets interesting is behind Stewart with Mike Goodson.

Stewart has been hurt during Mini’s and OTA’s and Goodson is a guy the team wants involved. Why does this matter? Because if Goodson gets a shot to shine and does so, this could become a three headed monster which might be great for Panther fans, though hurt the overall numbers of all three guys. Carolina runs a ton (504 pass attempts versus 414 passing according to footballguys.com) so there could be work for all, but that might be offset a tad by three running backs.

Baltimore: Will last year’s Thundering Blurb Mr. Glass Award Winner (TM) Willis McGahee, ever be healthy? My guess is no, sure as heck not coming off of two off-season surgeries. Both his knee (the one that has been hurt since…. um…. 1942?) and his ankle went under the knife. Stick a fork in him (or a scalpel), the man is DONE. The Ravens may not agree and we’ll get a sense of that in Training Camp. That could mean the start of the Ray Rice Ruckus (also (TM)).

Rice showed some skills last season when he was healthy and should get a ton of the carries. He won’t do it alone, however and whether the teams sticks with rookie Cedric Peerman, moves Le’Ron McClain back from fullback (where he went during OTA’s) or adds some work for Jalen Parmele. How the backs behind Rice shake out could impact his numbers very sigificantly.

Buffalo: With Marshawn Lynch suspended the first few games of the season, Fred Jackson will get his time to shine again. Jackson looked great in limited (sometimes not-so-limited) action last season. But the Bills acquired journeyman Dominic Rhodes this offseason to protect themselves and he’ll duke it out for lead bell cow while ‘Dis Muh Son’ Lynch is in Goodell’s pokey.

This battle, mostly between Jackson and Rhodes is critical because whomever wins the top spot might not relinquish it when Lynch comes back and could factor in with what the Bills do with the troubled back long term if he can’t get his head straight.

Cincinnati: I know the Bengals think they have some sort of hidden gem in Cedric Benson, and I’m happy for them but remain unconvinced. Benson did well behind a tragic offensive line, which will not be the case if rookie Andre Smith can get his act together. But I can’t help but recall all the problems Benson had in Chicago, so I am not annointing him anything and neither should Cinci. Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott are both good short yardage backs who can catch the ball and could make some noise.

Scott will have to overcome some maturity issues and they will both have to shine in camp to wrest carries away from Benson. That’s completely possible in my opinion so I will be interested to watch this camp closely.

Denver: There are three sure things in football right now – Brett Favre will be considering and waffling about a comeback in the spring and early summer, the Raiders will make decisions based on logic only they can comprehend and the Broncos running back situation will be a cloudy mess.

But have we lost one of those sure things? Surprising everyone in this April’s Draft, the Donks took Knowshon Moreno, the talented back from Georgia and the interwubs is all a-twitter (or all twittering) about Moreno carrying the whole load.

For sure, he can do it all – block, run, catch. But will Head Coach Josh McDaniels truly rely on one back? His former team, the Patriots, didn’t. Of course, you can argue they lacked a back like Moreno.

All I know is Moreno has the ability to do it. But with recent additions Correll Buckhalter, Lamont Jordan and Darius Walker, along with impressive 2008 rookie Peyton Hillis, this is a camp battle you have to watch. Considering they no longer have Jay Cutler slinging the ball, the run game is of paramount importance this year.

Indianapolis: It wasn’t that long ago that Joseph Addai was the answer in Colt-land at running back. A few injury-plagued seasons later, Donald Brown is drafted and Addai is poised to lose most of his carries.

Brown can do pretty much everything Addai can do, and might have the size to stay healthy as well. Most analysts feel it is only a matter of time before Brown takes over the higher percentage of carries in this obvious running-back-by-committee.

What I want to know is, what percentage does he start the season off with? A good camp by Brown could give him a large role in this prolific offense.

That’s it for today’s installment. I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at some more teams, including who might be backing up MJD in Jacksonville, what Philadelphia is looking at if Westbrook stays hurt and who will be the top dog in the mess that is the Seahawks’ run game.

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Thursday Game Breakdown – Colts at Jaguars (Jaguars breakdown) http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/12/thursday-game-breakdown-colts-at-jaguars-jaguars-breakdown/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/12/thursday-game-breakdown-colts-at-jaguars-jaguars-breakdown/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2008 19:13:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=376 David Garrard – A bad matchup to be sure, the Colts are only allowing 190 yds per game. Does it get worse? Yup – only a meager 5 TDs through the air while snagging 14 INTs – good enough for 9th best total in the league. Garrard has been up and down all seasojn – I wouldn’t want to throw him out there in my Championship week against this defense.

Maurice Jones-Drew – MJD is THE MAN now in the backfield and faces a nice matchup. The Colts allow 127+ yards a game on the ground and 16 Tds to date. Not only will MJD get a lot of carries, he’ll get some targets in the pass game as well. While he has under-produced for chunks of the season, I think this week he rolls off a very nice game.

Dennis Northcutt – Looks like he gets Garrard’s love with Matt Jones out. Can I trust him? Probably not, certainly not as more than a 4. As I expect a bad game from Garrard, you can’t depend on Northcutt all that much.

Reggie Williams – Williams consistently confuses the heck out of everybody and while he can put up the occasional big game I don’t think this is a matchup I would risk it.

Mike Walker – Nope – I want to see him play I think he has potential but it hasn’t been realized – or evident – since he hasn’t been on the field.

Marcedes Lewis – A shaky guy at best, not in the top 10 TEs this week, but if you are in a Hail Mary situation, you’re likely going to get maybe 20-40 yards and 3-5 catches. So not pretty, and barely passable.

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Thursday Game Breakdown – Colts at Jaguars (Colts breakdown) http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/12/thursday-game-breakdown-colts-at-jaguars-colts-breakdown/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/12/thursday-game-breakdown-colts-at-jaguars-colts-breakdown/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2008 18:49:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=375 Peyton Manning – Jacksonville is ranked as the 14th team against the pass allowing only 208 yds per game, but actually have given up the 4th most TDs in the league with 22. Manning has had a pair of great games the last two weeks against Cinci and Detroit, both of which normally hurt QBs because they can be run on so effectively. However, the Colts love to throw the ball and will probably do it often enough to where Manning should be a solid start once again.

Dominic Rhodes – Rumor has once again told us that Addai will certainly, maybe almost for sure could be dressed for the game. Whee – I love certainty! I don’t think this hurts Rhodes all that much but it could hamper the overall numbers a tad. The Jags are ranked a mediocre 17th in the league allowing 110 plus yards in the ground and 11 TDs. Not great not bad. I think Rhodes could get the lions share of the carries – if the Colts might make the playoffs then perhaps a healthy Addai may be worth riding Rhodes for now. I think he could get some decent yards and he’s a better start without Addai than with. I expect TDs through the air, not on the ground though so shoot for yards with a Rhodes start.

Joseph Addai – Even if he can play, do you want to roll with him? Even when he has played, he’s been a streaky. He’s had some good games (week 12 and 11) but far more shaky games. Even if he does go, I don’t know how well he will play. I think you take your championship life in your hands if he is in your lineup.

Reggie Wayne – Wayne hasn’t been as outstanding as we had hoped he might be. He’ll have a few big games in a row and then sort of fade away. Three of the last four weeks have been less than good – he gets targets but until last week vs Detroit had actually been a rather bad play. However the Jags give up yards, as I mentioned with Manning, and a ton of TDs. I think you can expect one of his better games this week, rather than worry about a down week.

Anthony Gonzales – A bump up since Harrison doesn’t play so Gonzalez might be a decent 3 or 4. He’s a shaky 4 most weeks, but could get some work across from Wayne when the coverage shifts that way. Has some nice upside, but I’m not in love with him as a start this week.

Dallas Clark – Does the Pro Bowl snub get a big game from him? Do Manning and Dungy try to prove a point? I think Clark could be an excellent start this Thursday because I think the Colts were as shocked as we were that Gates made it when Clark was outplaying him the whole year. 142 and a touch like last week? Probably not. But a bunch of catches and 50 or so yards – with maybe an accompanying TD? I think it’s very possible.

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FYI Bye Week Teams http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/09/fyi-bye-week-teams/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/09/fyi-bye-week-teams/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2008 23:10:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=195 Forgot to post this earlier – so keep these guys in mind – TON of teams off this week…

Week 4 – Detroit, Indy, Miami, New England, NY Giants, Seattle

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Friday Morning News Stampede http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/09/friday-morning-news-stampede/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/09/friday-morning-news-stampede/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2008 13:24:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=131 I’ll be posting my rankings at the big three (RB, QB, WR) and will probably touch on them during the News Stampede at Noon EST/9am PST. For now, a little light news to start our Friday off.

Also, a reminder I will be on The Jake Stevens Show ‘There It Is!’ on ESPN 1230 just after 7:30am PST/10:30am EST and you can catch it here or here.

Baltimore Ravens
According to the Baltimore Sun (which, if I recall, has been pushing for McGahee to leave the city all off season) the Ravens are preparing RB Ray Rice to start against the Bengals Sunday. We knew this, I think, and I still say with a rookie QB and an iffy O-line, he’s not the best play. Rice looks like he will be a solid play long term, but don’t get carried away. If he has the most upside of your backups, he might make an ok RB2. But I would rather not have to worry about how he will do in game 1 against 8 men in the box. Also, how much of a factor will McGahee be, if any?

Indianapolis Colts
Injured Center Jeff Saturday has decided against surgery (a common theme this NFL off-season, huh?), opting to rehab the torn right knee ligament and hoping to come back sooner than later. Certainly that would be good news for Manning and the Colts. It’s always a risk (see: Merriman, Shawne) but Saturday is an important presence along the offensive line and the sooner he gets back to snapping the ball, the better as far as Manning owners are concerned.

Seattle Seahawks
WR Deion Branch practiced in a limited fashion Thursday, though I think he is still a shaky bet to play Sunday. Even if he does, how effective will he be, having missed so much of the off-season? Yes, he’s a vet who knows the playbook, but timing is important for wide receivers and Branch hasn’t played consistently (really, at all) in a long time. Even if he’s in the Seahawk’s lineup, he shouldn’t be in yours. Not this week.

Tennessee Titans
WR Justin McCariens was back at practice yesterday after coming down with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday. He’s about the best bet in the WR core but I still wouldn’t throw him out there. In his favor is a familiarity with the offense from his first stint with the Titans and a veteran presence and experiance. Against him is the lack of any production since he left for the Jets and an overwhelming sense that he is past his prime – whatever THAT was. I still say the best receiving option here will end up being Chris Johnson. I suppose Alge Crumpler may put up some points, but I don’t want to have to count on it week 1.

That’s all for now folks – rankings scattered throughout today.

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