He didn’t inhale; he just sucked

As I prepared to board a bus at 11:30 last night, I got an email on my IPod that Ed Johnson had been released. Needless to say, I was a little disturbed, but thought at the time that I had noticed him making a lot of plays.  Still, like everyone else, I assumed Big Ed’s release was conduct related.  Like everyone else, I assumed it would hurt the team at least a little.  I was only saved from saying so because I was far, far from home.  As comments from the blog began to show up, I noticed some nice film work by “Preston” who wrote yesterday:

I’m sorry but I rewatched all of the first half of the Titans game after this news with the idea of evaluating Ed’s play, and i came to the conclusion that he had NOTHING to do with our success against the run in that game. Instantly jumping the the conclusion that we won’t be good against the run with him no longer on the team is silly. There were several run plays where Ed got blown off the line of scrimmage and the rest of the d stepped up and did a nice job. In my opinion, he was easily our worst dt in the Titans game, to heavy, not fast, and not particularly strong (didn’t use good leverage). He also didn’t show good effort. That’s my 2 cents anyway.

Preston later followed up his assertions with this post, detailing Johnson’s performance

11:20 first quarter, 1st and 10: Chris Johnson gets stopped for no gain, and the Titians get flagged for holding. Ed was on the back side of the play but was blocked up the entire play by Jake Scott and is pushed back 10 yards off the line of scrimmage.
11:00 first quarter, 2nd and 16: gets walled off completely one on one, gain of 8 to his side.
7:20 first quarter, 1st and 10: Screen pass 6 yards to his side, Ed is left virtually unblocked takes a poor angle and doesn’t even get close to making the tackle (could have been a play for no gain).
6:40 first quarter 2nd and 3
: It is a run to the defensive right he is play side, does a nice job stretching it out along the line of scrimmage, along with the rest of the d. doesn’t make a play thou doesn’t get penetration or push in the back field. Clint shoots his gap and makes a great tackle.
4:30 first quarter 3rd and 4: Ed gets singled by the center who keeps him nearly on the line of scrimmage in pass pro, which allows the left guard and tackle to double Freeney. Lacey makes a great play on the ball and breaks it up. ed is ineffective on this play
3:05 first quarter 1st and 10: Run to the defensive left. The colts slant their line in the same direction. Ed is in the right tackle spot next to Freeney, Roos gets on Ed and pushes him 10 yards down field all the way to the defensive left sideline the rest of the defense picks up the slack and makes cj cut it back right for a gain of 4, ed is ineffective.
Plays one more play that drive that is blow dead on a false start.

4:58 second quarter 1st and 10: Collins goes back for a pass gets pressure put on him by Freeney stunting inside, while Ed slants outside, he is effective scheme wise getting Freeney free up the middle. This forces Collins to sprint to the sideline and throw it away. Ed chases takes a nice angle and Hagler comes up at the end to force the issue. Not bad not great by any means.
4:50 second quarter 2nd and 10: Ed holds his gap well and Chris Johnson hits it Ed has a chance to stop him for two yards, but he doesn’t get off his block quick enough and Chris Johnson gains 7.
4:41 second quarter 3rd and 3: Pass play he gets decent push (he is only single blocked by a guard)(the double Antonio Johnson initially on the play center guard combo then slip the guard off to help with Freeney) has a chance to bat the ball down and misses. Not a bad play at all but nothing special. Results in a big completion down field.
2:15 second quarter 1st and 10: Pass play Ed gets double by the center and right guard not very exciting play gets his hand up when Collins passes short, but doesn’t get a hand on the ball.
1:58 second quarter 2nd and 5: Quick pass not much he can do.
1:30 second quarter 1st and 10: Pass play Ed and Mathis slant inside to defensive right while Antonio Johnson loops outside gets pressure on on Collins. Nicely designed play but the coverage downfield is what makes it. The stunt is effective and prevents Collins from holding onto the ball. Nothing special here good or bad.
1:22 second quarter 2nd and 10: Pass play, the one where Lacey makes a great play on the ball on a post route in the end zone. Ed is ineffective gets no pass rush, however Antonio Johnson gets nice pressure up the middle.
Well that’s the first half. Ed plays a total of 13 plays. (I’m pretty sure this is exhaustive) I’ll let you guys make up your mind on how effective Ed was

Today, the news comes out that Big Ed was cut not because of what he did, but because of what he didn’t do, namely make plays.  Preston was right, after all.  While I had noticed Mookie Johnson a ton, as well as Foster and Daniel Muir this year, other than one play in Arizona, Ed Johnson had been invisible.  With Adam Vinatieri out six weeks (talk about the buried lead!), the Colts needed a kicker, and decided Johnson wasn’t getting it done.  Amazing.  Every big time analyst and small time blogger missed the story, as we all (every one of us…from Phil B to Oehser to BBS to me to anyone else you care to think of) jumped to the same conclusion while the truth was on the tape.

One of the best takes on the situation came from Paul Kuharsky who says that the Colts were unfair to Johnson by cutting him without comment.

Considering the fanfare that greeted his return, that he was a starter since he was reinstated from his Week 1 suspension and that there had been no public questioning of his play, the team had to know a release without explanation was going to prompt suspicions he’d done something wrong off the field.

Coach Jim Caldwell admitted as much when he began to address it Wednesday.

“I know some might wonder whether or not it was a character issue,” he said.

If you knew, coach, why wouldn’t you seek to clarify that it was not as soon as possible? Isn’t that what you would have liked for someone to do for you if you were in a similar circumstance?

The team could have simply put out a statement Tuesday or have word passed down from on high that it was a production issue, not a behavioral one.

I whole heartedly agree that it made him look bad, although I suppose that’s as much our fault for making assumptions. This also means that possibly Ed could come back if there was injury or need.  He was first one on the chopping line, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone forever, although I think we’d all rather see Moala step and seize the spot that has been handed to him.

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