And of course there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and the Colts making the playoffs.
Well, make it two out of three. It’s over for the Colts.
“Adam, Mr. Polian is on the line for you.”
Our weekly sizzle and fizzle in the NFL.
When we talked to the Vikings’ star running back in training camp, he was oozing enthusiasm. The Vikes are free of drama this summer, for a change, and Peterson likes flying under the radar. He is thrilled to be playing with Donovan McNabb and for new head coach Leslie Frazier and cerebral new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The days of the offense running through Brett Favre, the days of Peterson not getting ample fourth-quarter touches, are over. Peterson told us on the SiriusXM Blitz that he craves "30 carries a game and eight catches." Frazier and Musgrave both stressed that Toby Gerhart will play to keep AP fresh. And they rightly trust Gerhart to be successful. It all adds up to Peterson staying healthy for 16 games and having a monster year. Don’t be afraid to draft Peterson with the first overall pick in fantasy football. I sure will.
The Packers cornerback is a play-making machine. And he was fired up when he joined us on SiriusXM NFL Radio on our stop at Packers training camp Wednesday. Woodson was heated that Bill Parcells called Darrelle Revis the best corner in the NFL. Woodson, who’s outplayed Revis the past two years, boasted: “I’m the best corner in the NFL. Nobody can do what I do. Nobody. I guess I have to keep proving it.”
Revis is the best pure cover corner. But the way Dom Capers uses Woodson in Green Bay is remarkable. He blitzes. He picks off passes. Woodson strips the football. The man is a playmaker. Woodson says he isn’t close to slowing down and spent the summer boxing to heal his shoulder. If he keeps playing at this level for a few more years, we will see Woodson in Canton.
Nnamdi Asomugha gets the headlines. Stealing Steve Smith from the rival Giants was juicy. Arguably, the signings of Babin and Cullen Jenkins on the defensive line are the biggest upgrades for the "dream team.”
Talking to Babin after a practice in the rain at Eagles camp this week, he was reflective on his journey. He flamed out, playing out of position as an outside linebacker in Houston after being picked in the first round. Babin bounced around before finding a home in Tennessee last year under Jim Washburn, the best defensive line coach in the business. Andy Reid brilliantly plucked Washburn after Jeff Fisher’s exit from the Titans, and Babin couldn’t wait to follow.
Playing for Washburn again, you don’t have to wonder if Babin was a one-hit wonder. And with Babin, Washburn and Jenkins joining Trent Cole on the defensive line, a weakness from a year ago has a great opportunity to become a great strength.
Why wait for my preseason picks? I know what I am going to shout from the rooftops when the calendar flips to September. And be honest with yourself. You see it coming, too.
The Colts’ incredible run of domination, the forgone conclusion of watching Peyton Manning play in the playoffs, will come to a crashing halt.
The banged-up and flawed Colts will go 8-8 and miss the postseason.
Manning is coming off neck surgery and hasn’t practiced. This is kind of a big deal. Nobody thrives on chemistry, practice and subsequent perfection quite like Manning. Not having this crucial time with his receivers and offensive line and coaches must be driving the ultimate perfectionist crazy.
Let’s not minimize the severity of neck surgery. Manning is getting long in the tooth. And yes, he once again put on his Superman cape and willed the beat-up Colts into the playoffs last year, despite enduring arguably the worst stretch of his career since his rookie season. And yes, I understand you won’t believe the Colts are dead until you see it. But I’m not convinced Manning is going to be in the proper physical condition, or by his legendary standards, the proper mental state to overshadow the issues in Indy.
And make no mistake about it — the issues in Indianapolis are plentiful.
Sure the Colts drafted Anthony Castonzo in the first round. But this offensive line has a long way to go before being strong. And legendary line coach Howard Mudd is not walking through the door, having moved to Philadelphia to coach the protectors for Michael Vick.
I loved the Delone Carter draft pick, and not just because we are both Syracuse alumni. Carter adds toughness and eventually can be the goal-line back. But for some reason, Indy still is messing around with the underachieving, oft-injured combination of Joseph Addai and Donald Brown.
The Colts defense is filled with questions and holes at tackle and linebacker and in the defensive backfield.
Think about it. Where is the arrow pointing on defense? How would you rank the Colts defense in the division?
I’ll answer and provide evidence. The arrow is down. The Colts will have the worst defense in the AFC South.
The Texans had a superb draft, plucking instant-impact star J.J. Watt to play end, while also drafting first-round talents in Brooks Reed and Brandon Moore later in the draft. They hired defensive guru Wade Phillips. Leader and star linebacker DeMeco Ryans is healthy. Brian Cushing will play 16 games without a steroids cloud hanging over his head. And Houston general manager Rick Smith made an ideal free-agent pickup when he nabbed Jonathan Joseph, who serves as a major upgrade at the previously maligned cornerback position.
Where exactly are the Colts better?
The Jags signed Paul Posluszny to anchor the middle of the defense and their young linemen are only getting better. The Titans made of the best moves of the offseason by bringing in tackling machine and leader Barrett Ruud. New coordinator Jerry Gray is a major upgrade over Chuck Cecil.
Now the Colts’ competition needs to prove it can take the next step. Houston and Jacksonville showed flashes of overtaking the Colts last season, only to miserably choke down the stretch.
Sure, I acknowledge the coaches in the division won’t be confused with Vince Lombardi anytime soon. Gary Kubiak’s management is baffling and he should be held responsible for the Texans’ collapse last year. Jack Del Rio is on the hottest seat in the league. Mike Munchak has never been a head coach before. But Jim Caldwell’s game-day act is rather goofy. Who can forget Peyton Manning’s hand gesture during inexplicable time management down the stretch against the Jets in the playoffs last year?
Indy needs a fast start and I’m not convinced the Colts will get it. They start the season in Houston before hosting the Browns and Steelers and visiting the Bucs in the first quarter of the year.
In the next four weeks they are home to the balanced Chiefs before three straight road games in Cincy, New Orleans and Tennessee.
I’ll be generous and predict the Colts will start the season 3-5.
The Texans have the balance and explosiveness on offense to win the division. The Colts have recent history and nothing more. Regardless of the spin coming out of Indianapolis.
I know it is against conventional wisdom to bet against future Hall of Famers like Manning and President Bill Polian. But the evidence is too strong to think Manning can put on his Superman cape and save the Colts. If, of course, he’s healthy enough to be Superman.