Oct
06

Is it fair to view Colts QB Andrew Luck as a future Aaron Rodgers?

Well, the hype surrounding Colts QB Andrew Luck seems to be real. He had one stellar game (against the Vikings), two steady games, and probably the most impressive thing is that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn’t treat him like a rookie. One interesting thing that’s come up this week as I’ve been shuttling back and forth between Indy and Green Bay is that Luck is starting to get compared to the dude he’s facing this week. The thought is that Luck (in a few years) = Aaron Rodgers. That’s what the Colts hope. “Very similar,” interim coach Bruce Arians said when asked to compare Rodgers and Luck. “Aaron’s very mobile, very accurate, got good velocity. Obviously he can handle a […]

Oct
05

What difference will a crazy home crowd make for the Colts? “It’s day and night!”

The Colts want crowd noise for Sunday’s game against the Packers. A lot of it. As interim coach Bruce Arians mentioned, the crazy Cheeseheads do travel, and they are wary of having them take over their building. “That cannot happen,” Arians said. The importance of that is not lost on the players. That specifically applies to the offense, because they will be the ones to hear it if the Packers fans get nuts. Of course, WR Reggie Wayne has an idea for how to deal with it. “It’s all good,” Wayne said. “There’s one way to quiet that down and that’s to make plays, no matter if we’re at home or away. We do know that, we  understand that the Packers […]

Oct
05

With just two catches, Packers WR Donald Driver says dealing with it “is never easy”

It is a rare reality for Donald Driver. The Packers veteran receiver and one of the faces of the franchise has gone from key cog in the offensive machine to rarely used relic. At least, that’s the way it’s been over four games. Driver, who has been with the Packers since 1999, has just 2 catches this year. Two for 29 yards, though one was a touchdown. That’s it. And even worse than that, he’s buried on the depth chart that includes Greg Jennings, surging Jordy Nelson, newcomer James Jones and fast-twitcher Randall Cobb. The 37-year-old Driver has been a non-factor. But now that Jennings is out with his groin injury against the Colts, will that open the door for […]

Oct
04

The Packers are ready to play without WR Greg Jennings, don’t expect much to change

The Packers did something very rare today. They ruled WR Greg Jennings out for Sunday’s game against the Colts even before Friday. He had battled a groin injury and described himself as “frustrated” on Wednesday for having to deal with it. Now, the idea is to let it heal and come back stronger. That was the decision that coach Mike McCarthy made after speaking with Jennings prior to practice (one Jennings did not participate in). “We just talked through the history of his injury and we felt like we were going around in a circle,” McCarthy said. “We just felt like, why take decision all the way to Sunday? We’re going to shut him down for the week, he’s going to […]

Oct
03

The Colts turn their focus to the Packers, while never taking their minds off Chuck Pagano’s cancer battle

We already know that the Colts won’t beat anybody using old-fashioned weapons like snot bubbles and tears. We can thank Bruce Arians, Indianapolis’ interim coach, for that image. But they do have a battle on their hands on Sunday, and not just because the Packers are coming to town. In addition, they have to play without their head coach. As you probably read, Chuck Pagano was unfortunately diagnosed with leukemia, which has made Arians the man in charge while Pagano wages his fight. And that’s put the onus on the team to put their emotions aside, as hard as that may be. Pagano has one reason why they should. Arians made the point that Pagano wouldn’t want them to “play […]

Oct
03

Rap Sheet Rankings: The Week 5 Edition

In a strange statistical oddity (I guess all oddities are strange), there isn’t one matchup of two winning teams in this NFL week’s schedule. Through four weeks, that’s just the way it turned out. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good games. With some of the surprise teams (Cardinals, Vikings) facing interesting opponents, and with the mess of a Jets team playing on Monday Night Football against the undefeated Texans, there will be plenty to dissect. But for me, as I rank the Top 14 games of the week, there is none better than Patriots-Broncos. Also known as, Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Yup, we’ve seen this play out 12 times before, always with the Patriots and Colts. Brady has […]

Oct
02

My story: The Cowboys arrive at their much-needed bye at a crossroads

It was a brutal, ugly night for the Cowboys against the Bears, a Monday Night football beat-down that the nation saw. QB Tony Romo threw five interceptions, RB DeMarco Murray had a key fumble, WR Dez Bryant had a big drop, and on and on. It is with this backdrop that the Cowboys arrive at their bye week. Thankfully. They are 2-2, with an impressive home win over the Giants and a gritty win over the Bucs. It also contains a not-even-close road loss at Seattle and last night. They have been impressive and maddening, which is the way it’s been for the Cowboys. As TE Jason Witten said, “That’s the disappointing thing. I think each man has to look […]

Oct
01

Cowboys QB Tony Romo after beat-down: ‘It’s just going to suck for a few days now.’

The Cowboys had a national showcase. A home Monday Night Football game in their sparkling stadium, with the Chicago Bears coming in and the world watching. Then… a brutally ugly 34-18 loss that ended with nothing but Chicago faithful in the stands. Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw five interceptions, including two pick-sixes, and the meltdown was on. Now the Cowboys have a bye, though as Romo said, “It’s just going to suck for a few days now, obviously.“ The goal is to regroup. There’s nothing else they can do. The Cowboys will get healthy, likely getting OLB Anthony Spencer (chest), C Phil Costa (back), and NT Jay Ratliff (ankle) back. They will also try to get their minds right. “We’ve […]

Oct
01

Rap Sheet Rundown: The Week 4 Edition

The Texans are pretty legit. That’s what I learned yesterday at Reliant Stadium while watching Houston dismantle the Titans. They are complete. Balanced offense, attacking defense, a potential weapon in special teams in Trindon Holliday. And sound minds on both sides of the ball. I wondered if the Texans have any actual weaknesses. “I don’t know, man,” Texans OT Duane Brown told me. “I think this is the only team I’ve been a part of where you look at all facets of the game and we’re pretty darn good.” It’s a long season, but they are 4-0, with more wins than the entire rest of the AFC South combined. There are some juggernauts in the conference — the Ravens, the […]

Sep
30

The Texans defense tried to keep DE J.J. Watt out of the highlights… and failed

The Texans defense did what it always does in today’s 38-14 win over the Titans. They dominated, applying pressure, confusing them, and making plays. And in one of the NFL’s best defenses, second-year end J.J. Watt is the most dynamic player. It was that way again in Reliant Stadium. Watt had two sacks, five tackles, and one fumble recovery. He put on a show. There were plenty of highlights, as Watt ran his total to a whopping 7.5 sacks in four games — a staggering number for a 3-4 DE. How good is he? Allow Texans owner Bob McNair to weigh in. “I don’t know if there’s anybody on the defensive side of the ball that’s playing  as well as […]

Sep
30

Nine really random things and whatever else is going on around the NFL…

As we do every week, let’s take a swing around the NFL, looking at a bunch of random things… So, what’s been up? 1. The Texans are pretty good. That’s some analysis, right? But they are. A complete offense, a defense with enough firepower so you can’t double-team DE J.J. Watt, they have it all. I’d say right now, they are the NFL’s best team. And man, it’s been a long time coming. Think about it. They are 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. In 10 full years, they have just two winning seasons, one of which was last year. It took coach Gary Kubiak six seasons to win 10 games, and now that he’s sticking around, they’re […]

Sep
29

Titans QB Jake Locker talks about his “evolving confidence” and what else is going on…

Jake Locker has one win under his belt as a starter. And that’s a big step. I’m not being funny, there’s a certain deep breath that comes with notching your first one. When the Titans starting QB and I talked on the phone this week, in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the Texans, the absolutely craziness of the 44-41 win over the Lions wasn’t lost on him. “Yeah, it was wild,” Locker told me. “Just one that had so many ups and downs, so many different types of explosive plays. One of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of, for sure.” This week is a major challenge. No doubt. And you’ll hear a lot of what he told […]

Sep
28

On a scale of 1-10, just how awesome does Cowboys QB Tony Romo think his offensive line is?

The Cowboys offensive line was dreadful last Sunday, even in the win over the Bucs. QB Tony Romo was sacked four times, they false-started far more than you’d like, and the holding penalties weren’t pretty. Sure, sure, a win. But not one you want to tell mama about. Fast-forward a few days, and Romo met with the media. Toward the end of a nine-minute session that revolved around the inconsistent unit, Romo was asked about his confidence level in the fatties. And the exchange was comical. “Give me a scale,” Romo responded. “Like, 1-10?“ Yeah. “Let’s go with a 10,” Romo said with a smile. “I feel very confident.” The media laughed… which I don’t think was the desired response. […]

Sep
28

What is the problem with the Titans’ running game? “It would be easy if it was just one thing”

Just a quick thing before I head out to Cowboys practice (this is called, multitasking). So, I’m covering the Texans-Titans game this week on Sunday, and there are a lot of issues to hit (like this one). One, of course, revolves around the mysterious Titans’ running game. The focus has been on Tennessee’s second-leading rusher, which — unbelievably — is Chris Johnson. The fantasy stud and player formerly known as CJ2K has just 45 yards rushing. That’s 66th in the league. Yikes. What gives? He’s still fast. He’s still got skills. And he’s running behind a Titans offensive line that has allowed just two sacks of QB Jake Locker. What is the issue? Titans RB Coach Jim Skipper explained yesterday. […]

Sep
27

Professor Wade Phillips, Texans DC, explains why his 3-4 defense isn’t like all the others

My quick, one-day trip to Houston to report on the Texans is almost complete, as I’m waiting in the airport to go home. It was nice and informative, and you’ll hear some of what I learned on Sunday morning. Oh, I’ll be back to cover the Texans-Titans game. One thing I really liked was the explanation of Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillip when the topic of his 3-4 defense came up. The mind behind one of the NFL’s most aggressive, attacking, and effective units explored his methods. A reporter asked about the production from DE J.J. Watt, who has 5.5 sacks and a whole bunch more. He doesn’t fit the mold of the 3-4 end, which is usually a Richard […]

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