Friday, September 2, 2011

Colts Preview

It seems like it has been forever since I have made a post on here. I guess that is what happens when you get back to the real world. Sometimes I feel like my job has robbed me of the sports fan inside. With that being said, it's time to get back on track with my dream to write about sports, so I will start with a few thoughts on the Colts heading into cut day and the start of the regular season.

Roster Thoughts:

I'm not going to take the time to dive into every position on the roster, but I do want to share my thoughts on a few of the key battles that have played out throughout the preseason.


In my not so humble opinion, it would take seeing Peyton in a wheelchair with a neck brace for me to actually believe that he is going to miss a game. This guy lives to win football games, and unless he believes the Colts can win a game or two with Kerry Collins' corpse, there is no way he is not taking the snaps for his team.

As far as the back ups go, I'm not convinced that Kerry Collins' play in the final preseason game was deserving of winning the battle. However, it was a small sample size and his track record says he is the best option (not to mention his contract being $3+ million more than Painter's).

Running Back:

This might be the toughest position to decide when it comes down to it, and I think we are probably in for a surprise move. I will agree with Dan Dakich, who said on twitter "Darren Evans just looks and runs like an NFL running back."

Right now, I'm seeing them keeping four in the mix. Joe has to stay healthy and get the bulk of the carries, with a mix of Brown, James, and Evans backing him up. One thing to look out for is the front office deciding they've had enough of Brown's inability to make anybody miss.

Wide Receiver:

The obvious keepers are Reggie, Austin Collie, and Garcon. After those three, things get pretty murky. Taj Smith and Chris Brooks both showed flashes of good and bad during the preseason, and there are different things that each brings to the field. David Gilreath showed that he might be deserving of a spot because of what he brings to the return game. Also, you have to figure if there is any indication from the medical staff that they believe Gonzo could stay on the field for a decent amount of time, he has to be the 4th guy.

Looks like a tough decision will have to be made, and if it was my decision to make I would go with Brooks because of the unique characteristics that he brings to the offense. I also think you have to keep Gilreath as your return man and 5th receiver. One thing is for sure, it will be sad to see Gonzo go (and with the luck of Colts fans he will go on to have a Pro Bowl career in Tennessee or Jacksonville.)

Defensive Line:

The Tommie Harris and Jamaal Anderson signings might turn out to be gambles that pay off. I liked what I saw out of both during the preseason and think that they are both deserving of roster spots. With the inconsistent play in years past from the defensive tackles, I wouldn't be surprised to see a total of nine guys make the roster on the defensive line (Freeney, Mathis, Anderson, Harris, Jerry Hughes, Antonio Johnson, Fili Moala, Drake Nevis, and Eric Foster.)

Defensive Back:

Anybody got a helmet and some pads I can borrow because I'm pretty sure even a schlub like me could make the roster at defensive back this year. Expect a leaky pass defense all season long unless one of the young guys turns out to be better than they have looked during the preseason.


That is all of the positions that I will cover, as the rest are pretty cut and dry. After watching four preseason games, reading the thoughts of the writers covering the team, and listening to ESPN radio all day every day, I am not sure what to think going into week one. As of right now this is where I stand on my predictions for the Colts, and the NFL season in general (I reserve the right to change them as many times as I want throughout the season):

Colts Record: 9-7, Wild Card
Offensive Rank: Between 6 and 10
Defensive Rank: Between 23 and 27
Team MVP: Kerry Collins
Real Team MVP: 18

Super Bowl: Falcons over Jets
League MVP: Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Defensive POY: Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Offensive ROY: Mark Ingram, Saints
Defensive ROY: Von Miller, Broncos

With the Purdue season kicking off tomorrow against Middle Tennessee State, I will try to make an early morning post with some tidbits about the outlook of the Boilermakers' season. As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An update on Purdue players heading into the NFL:
The only drafted player was Mike Neal, who got picked up by Green Bay in the second round.

As is normal with Purdue players, a handful of guys have signed as undrafted free agents with hopes of at least making a practice squad somewhere. Here's the rundown on who is where so far:
Jared Zwilling - C - Tampa Bay Bucs
Brandon King - CB - Indianapolis Colts
Joey Elliot - QB - Philadelphia Eagles
David Pender - CB - Philadelphia Eagles

The rest of the Colts UDFA's include some well known talents that could potentially have an impact on this team:
Brett Swenson - K - Michigan State
Brandon James - KR - Florida - Might be the type of playmaker the Colts need on Special Teams
Blair White - WR - Michigan State - Watching him play in college reminded me of an Austin Collie type, could be a good fit for the fifth receiver on the roster.
Thad Turner - CB - Ohio
Javarris James - RB - Miami
Tim Hiller - QB - Western Michigan - Decent talent, but I don't think he is an upgrade over Painter
Mike Newton - S - Buffalo
Jeff Linkenbach - OL - Cincinnati
David Caldwell - S - William and Mary

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reds Final Roster

With opening day right around the corner, I'll take a stab at what I think the final 25 man roster breaking camp will be:
C - Ramon Hernandez
Ryan Hannigan
1B - Joey Votto
2B - Brandon Phillips
SS - Orlando Cabrera
3B - Scott Rolen
INF - Aaron Miles
Paul Janish
LF - Johnny Gomes
CF - Drew Stubbs
RF - Jay Bruce
OF - Chris Dickerson
Wladimir Balentien
SP - Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Homer Bailey
Travis Wood
RP - Francisco Cordero
Nick Masset
Jared Burton
Dannny Ray Herrera
Arthur Rhodes
Mike Lincoln
Logan Ondrusek
The only real question marks remain at the fifth starter with Chapman and Leake still in the mix, and whether to carry another infielder/outfielder over that 12th pitcher.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's Madness!

As with most of the other 4.8 million brackets created for ESPN's Tournament Challenge, mine are all in shambles. However, there have been a few moments in this tournament that have made for a warm, fuzzy feeling. Obviously, it felt great to see Purdue win a tournament game without Robbie Hummel. If you listened to the experts, announcers, columnists, fans from every other school, or general public it may have seemed to you that the Boilers stood about as much chance of beating Siena as I have of playing professional baseball (hint: I'm blind in one eye, so my chances are less than zero). It was quite apparent to Boiler fans how significant this injury would be, but the Purdue faithful refused to give up hope. To me, this looks like a Sweet 16 team, which is not bad for a team that's season went down the toilets with the loss of one player, according to everybody and their brother.

I enjoy a good upset here and there, and of course I picked a few in my brackets just to feel like I was living on the edge. I had Murray State over Vandy in a few, ODU over Notre Dame in a few, and Washington over Marquette in a few. However, in twelve brackets I did not think twice about picking Georgetown. The Hoyas, as we all know, fell flat on their faces against a hot shooting Ohio team, and as they fall they took everybody's bracket with them, leaving us with a pile of crumbled up paper rendered meaningless and overly hyped basketball players... also rendered meaningless. That, in a nutshell, is the beauty of March Madness.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reds Offseason

I'll start off with a look at the Reds last ten seasons (thanks to Baseball Almanac for the info):

2009: 78-84, 4th place in NL Central, Payroll: $73,558,500
2008: 74-88, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $74,277,685
2007: 72-90, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $68,904,980
2006: 80-82, 3rd place in NL Central, Payroll: $60,909,519
2005: 73-89, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $61,892, 583
2004: 76-86, 4th place in NL Central, Payroll: $43,067,858
2003: 69-93, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $59,355,667
2002: 78-84, 3rd place in NL Central, Payroll: $45,050,390
2001: 66-96, 5th place in NL Central, Payroll: $45,227,882
2000: 85-77, 2nd place in NL Central, Payroll: $46,867,200

The last time the Redlegs made the playoffs was 1995...

Sorry, had to stop to ponder that for a minute (and wipe away a tear). As you can see, it is easy to have little hope left about a dream season anytime soon. And yet somehow every offseason I found a way to convince myself that this year is OUR year. This year is no different, as I refuse to give up hope... until summer rolls around and we are again fighting for 4th place in the division.

What have the Reds done this offseason to provide a little hope for the fans? It all starts with quite possibly the biggest surprise signing in baseball:
  • Aroldis Chapman: The soon to be 22 year old Cuban southpaw immediately became the best left-handed pitching prospect in Major League Baseball when he signed a 6 year, $30.25 million contract with the Reds. My take: Reds fans were grumbling about another offseason in which we let opportunities slip away. Walt Jocketty made a splash when nobody was looking, and it felt great to have a little water in the face when I was focused on nothing but football and college basketball. Let's hope the Reds don't rush him into the rotation before he is ready. Chapman throws HARD, but he hasn't developed a secondary pitch that is good enough to take care of big league hitters. If he makes it to the majors in 2010, it will instantly become one of the biggest stories in MLB.
  • Extending Scott Rolen: The decision by Rolen and the Reds to restructure his contract works in favor of both parties. As noted by Mark Sheldon, the move gave the Reds some more payroll flexibility for the present and future, and it gives Rolen two more years of job security. My take: Rolen is one of, if not THE best defensive third basemen in baseball, and he's not too bad with the wood either. He also gives the Reds some veteran leadership, and some World Series experience to keep us ground if we do finally make a playoff push.
  • Resigning Ramon: Jocketty kicked off the offseason by declining the option on Ramond Hernandez's contract. He followed that up by resigning the veteran backstop for $3.0 million in 2010, with a vesting $3.25 million option. My take: The catching market was pretty weak, and there wasn't a better option in house, in my opinion. Hanigan is probably not the answer at catcher for the future of this team, so bringing back a veteran that can continue to help develop our good, young arms would seem to be a worthwhile move.
  • Bringing in Cabrera: Everybody that even remotely pays attention to the Reds knew that shortstop was easily the biggest position of need heading into this offseason. The Reds have tried to solve that weakness by bringing in Orlando Cabrera on a 1 year, $3 million deal with another $3 million option for 2011. My take: Cabrera can't be anything but an upgrade over the production we've gotten offensively from the shortstop position in the last few seasons. If he can even play above average defense he will be the right man for the job, in my opinion.
  • A Few Minor Moves: There will be a few guys coming in on Minor League contracts, and none of them are worth shouting over. There a couple of moves that a like, a couple of move that I'm neutral on, and really nothing to be angry about. My Take:
  • Miguel Cairo: Should provide solid defense from all four infield positions as a utility guy, and will have a decent chance at making the roster out of Spring Training.
  • Jose Arredondo: Will not be able to pitch until 2011 after Tommy John Surgery. When he returns, Reds fans will be very happy with this signing because Arredondo has been a strikeout machine when healthy.
  • Josh Anderson / Laynce Nix: Neither guy would appear to be the answer in Left Field, as both have struggled at the plate throughout their time in the Majors. Nix showed some power last season, and has the better chance at making the roster, but it will be as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter at most.
  • Chris Burke: With the Cairo signing and Paul Janish still hanging around, Burke will have to bring something special to the team during Spring Training. I don't see it happening, and I don't see Burke being a Red for very long.
  • Jonny Gomes Coming Back (Soon): A Gomes return appears imminent, and you can count me as one of the Reds fans that is pretty excited about that. Why? Because he broke out last year and proved he is the answer in left field? Nope. Because he hit 20 home runs last season? Not quite. Because he looked really cool when he wore that mo-hawk for the Rays in the playoffs? Precisely. Gomes is a fun guy that brings a solid work ethic to a young team that is full of otherwise quiet characters. He may not be the answer in left field, and he may not hit 20 home runs, but if somebody comes after one of our pitchers, you can bet he will come in swinging.
  • Ridding the Outfield of Tavares: The one big trade made from Cincinnati this offseason has been the one I've been hoping for since before the trade deadline last year. Tavares ended up being quite the bust when it comes to leading off and playing centerfield, and the Reds have tried to make some good of the situation by moving his contract and bringing in a utility guy in Aaron Miles. The trade also included Adam Rosales, a guy that got a chance to show what he could do in the majors last season and didn't quite live up to expectations. My take: This leaves little to no pressure on Drew Stubbs heading into Spring Training, which could be a good or bad thing. Let's face it, with Dusty Baker managing this club, he very well could have started Willy in the leadoff spot and delayed the development of Stubbs. The future is looking bright all around the diamond with the solid young players that will be getting playing time in 2010.
It looks like this is the product the Reds will be putting on the field for the 2010 season:
C - Ramon Hernandez
Ryan Hanigan
1B - Joey Votto
2B - Brandon Phillips
SS - Orlando Cabrera
3B- Scott Rolen
INF - Miguel Cairo
Aaron Miles
LF - Chris Dickerson
CF - Drew Stubbs
RF - Jay Bruce
OF - Laynce Nix
Jonny Gomes
SP - Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Homer Bailey
Aroldis Chapman
RP - Jared Burton
Mike Lincoln
Arthur Rhodes
Micah Owings
Danny Herrera
Nick Masset
Francisco Cordero

Obviously there are a few positions there that I am being bold in predicting, but for the most part this is the most comfortable I've felt about knowing who should make the roster out of Spring Training. That certainly can't be a bad thing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dream Super Bowl

Since the day Drew Brees went to New Orleans, the possibility of a Brees vs. Manning Super Bowl has had me salivating. The thought of my two favorite football players of all time squaring off for the Championship in the sport the consumes my life gives me a funny feeling deep down inside.

This game has the makings to be one of the best football games that any of us have ever seen in our lives. Just a few of the excellent match-ups we get to look forward to, dream about, and pick apart for the next two weeks:
  • Brees vs. Manning: I would argue that these are the top two quarterbacks in the NFL at this point in time. I know some would try to throw Tom Brady into that conversation, but I just can't do that as a Purdue and Colts fan. There is going to be a lot a chucking the ol' pigskin in this one, and both of these guys will look to carry his team to glory.
  • Freeney and Mathis vs. New Orleans' Pro Bowl O-Line: Mathis and Freeney have both looked excellent this year, and are considered one of the best defensive end duos in the league (obviously I'm biased and would consider them THE best). They will be lining up across from an offensive line that had two players voted into the Pro Bowl, and another added as an injury replacement. The group has only allowed Breesus to be sacked once all postseason, and neither Freeney nor Mathis have recorded a sack in a postseason game. It will be interesting to see if the Saints big uglies can continue to slow down the Colts explosive rush.
  • Colts Receivers vs. New Orleans Secondary: This might be my favorite match-up of all. Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garçon, Dallas Clark, and Marvi... I mean Antho.. Ok just those four. But just those four have been more than enough for this incredible ride that we are on. I MUST give special mention of what Pierre Garçon did last week against what was supposed to be an excellent Jets secondary. The guy simply made big play after big play and carried the Colts (with a little help from Peyton) to victory. They will be up against one of the best playmaking secondaries in the NFL. Three players returned interceptions for scores, and Darren Sharper was quite possibly the best defensive player in the NFL this year. Both sides will have to give it their all on every play, and this could be the matchup that decides the game.
I will continue to dream about what this game means to those of us in Boilermaker and Colt territories, and as I dream I will continue to post some tidbits for your viewing pleasure. In the meantime, be sure to check out Super Bowl central at ESPN for all of the latest news and information about the big game.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NFL Conference Championship Games

Tomorrow 's championship games feature three teams that everybody expected to be there from the get go, and one that came on late (thanks to a little help from the Colts and Bengals coaching staffs) to seal a playoff spot, and has stuck to their game plan to carry them through the playoffs.

As a Colts fan, I would have loved the opportunity for them to play the Chargers or Patriots in the AFC Championship, because a victory would be that much sweeter. Also, as a Purdue Boilermaker at heart, I love seeing Drew Brees continue to grow into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. With that said, my predictions for tomorrow's games:

AFC: Jets @ Colts, 3 PM, CBS
I have never been one to go into a game feeling overconfident. If there is one lesson I learned from coaching football this past fall, it's that anything can happen on any given day. The J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have been the perfect example of that all throughout this year's playoff's. If you had told me that Nate Kaeding, after missing only three field goals all season, was going to miss three field goals in one game, I would have bet my entire collection of Colts memorabilia on it. Good thing I didn't because the Jets have had things going there way the last two weeks. With some good hard running, taking care of the ball, and stepping it up on defense they have played their way into the title game, and they certainly can't be taken lightly.

HOWEVER, this is the Indianapolis Colts, winners of 15 straight meaningful games, and 23 of their last 24 games that actually mattered, with the one loss to a Chargers team in an overtime in which the Colts did not get an offensive possession. This team knows how to win games with offense, defense, and special teams. Peyton Manning is quite possibly playing the best football of his career, as are Dallas Clark, and Reggie Wayne. We will also be watching a defense that has been very solid all season, executing the bend but don't break better than any team in the history of the game. Antoine Bethea, Gary Brackett, Kelvin Hayden, and Robert Mathis are four of the most underrated defensive players in the game.

Look for the Colts to stack the box early to slow down (there's no shutting down) the Jets running game. Offensively, Peyton will look to throw early and often to build a quick lead. If the Colts get up by more than 10, the Jets will have to lean on Mark Sanchez, and without a truly reliable weapon beyond his tight end Dustin Keller (Boiler Up!), I can't be convinced that this would turn out pretty for the Jets. FINAL SCORE: Colts 31 Jets 10

NFC: Vikings @ Saints, 6:30 PM, FOX
I'll keep this simple. This will be the best game that any of us have seen in the NFL ALL SEASON LONG. Two very solid offenses that love to score points in bunches go up against two defenses that love two make big plays.

This game will be all about Drew Brees making plays two everybody on the roster. It seems like they could line up Garrett Hartley (the kicker) at wide receiver and Brees would find a way to get him the ball. If the Saints can get anything from the running game combination of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Mike Bell they will have a slight advantage in this game. Defensively, the Saints need to make Adrain Peterson beat them, because he has been very quiet as of late, and as a result we have seen Brett Favre and Sidney Rice chewing up secondaries and spitting them out.

Offensively for the Vikings, they need to get Peterson going early so that things will open up for Favre, and he can take some shots deep to Sidney Rice. Rice has emerged this season as one of the best deep threats in the NFL. The Vikings defense is predictable in what they are going to do, but they are one of the absolute best at doing it. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards (Boilers represented well this weekend) need to get pressure on Drew Brees, and the secondary will have to play its best game of the season.

I'm thinking we are going to see this game decided on the final play. FINAL SCORE: Saints 38 Vikings 35.

Enjoy a day of exciting football, and check back on Monday for my thoughts on how the games went.