Going into these next few months, the Colts organization has some minor, but very important questions to consider. While the combo of Tony Dungy and Bill Polian have done a good job of building the team in such a way that no glaring holes are present, there are still some “soft spots”.
The defensive tackle position is still a position of danger to me. Yes, guys like Fili Moala, Terrance Taylor, and Ed Johnson have been brought in and will help, but the position was extremely weak last year and it showed in the opposition’s running attack, with an average of nearly 125 yards per game.
If a running back can get through the D-line, the defense is in for all kinds of problems after that. Those two guys need to be gap-fillers up front. The Colts most likely will rotate the three mentioned above with Keyunta Dawson and Eric Foster, with versatile Raheem Brock moving up and down the line all year.
Ed Johnson is the boom or bust guy. Back in ’06 and ’07, he looked real good. Then he decided to get on Tony Dungy’s bad side and got cut (which I agreed with). He has the ability. If he can keep his mind in check, things could go really well.
The scary thing is that you can insert Tank Johnson’s name in the above paragraph (Come to think of it, are these two guys brothers?). [That’s a joke.]
Ed Johnson has the most ability out of any of those guys (even though I’m partial to Taylor, the only bright spot on a crappy ’08 Wolverines squad, you can drudge up those memories later if you want to talk to me about how he plays), but the Colts front office and coaching staff will not let Johnson’s head get in the way.
Frankly, I’m surprised they gave him a second chance, but am more surprised he did not latch on somewhere else. Maybe the Colts got the best of both worlds in this scenario: they took their stance by cutting him and letting him know that his behavior wasn’t going to cut it, and then got him back a year later for nothing.
But I digress.
The D-tackle position boils down to this: You have a bunch of guys who are solid, yet unspectacular, and this setup can go two ways.
One, the rotation to keep these guys fresh will maximize their potential and good things will happen.
Second, no one steps up and 2008 repeats itself.
That’s a scary thought when I think about that San Diego game.
I’m praying to the football gods above that scenario one wins out, but honestly, I don’t know.
That’s the most glaring positional question mark heading into the ’09 season, but that’s not it.
Peyton Manning has never played without Marvin Harrison. Call me crazy, but that scares me.
While Harrison was not himself for the last few years (and yes I know he missed some games, don’t freak out about above statement), but any Colts fan can tell you that Harrison’s retirement is a pretty big loss.
He’s not just injured, he’s gone. He and Manning had about as much chemistry as a QB-WR combo can have. Think Montana-Rice. That’s never a marriage to break up, no matter what anniversary they are about to hit.
I’m optimistic that receivers like Anthony Gonzalez, Austin Collie and Roy Hall can step up to help Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, but I’m going to miss Starvin Marvin.
The offensive line scared me a lot last year early in the season. Just think about that Minnesota game.
Seriously, the line played so bad, almost sending Peyton Manning to a premature death, that if The Hangover was previewing at that time, I would have definitely met the team on their return to Indianapolis and channeled my inner Tyson on Jamey Richard and Co.
Things got better as the season progressed, so my worries have went down a little, but I still remember that game vividly.
Tony Ugoh has been up and down, but I trust Polian’s instincts enough, especially since he thought highly enough of the guy to give up a first round pick for a second to get Ugoh.
That pretty much wraps it up. The team is still very strong.
I’m still excited, my friends.
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