Tackle the Problem

First the good from the game tonight:

  • It speaks volumes about Caldwell’s control of the team that they came out sharp.  The team clearly wanted to perform well, and by and large did.  Getting the rare win was meaningless, more important was how sharp the team looked and how hard they played.  Caldwell wanted them to prove something and they did. 
  • We can officially bury all the “Joseph Addai sucks” talk.  He was explosive, shifty, and made an incredible catch on third down.  This man is a seriously talented football player.
  • The right side of the line opened running lanes.  That almost never happened last year.
  • Painter has quite the gun on him.  I doubt he unseats Sorgi this year, but Jim had better watch out.  If Painter hangs around with the practice squad, I bet he takes the back up job next year.
  • The two TE set up is going to work well.  Tamme is still in development, but he’s going to become a weapon.
  • TJ Rushing had a nice return.  I still think that if healthy, he’s the Colts’ best option.
  • Mike Hart played.  Good for him.
  • Dwight Freeney, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne.  Those guys are who they are.  As long as they are upright, this team is going to win games.
  • 1.4 YPC for the Eagles.  Zero first downs rushing…oh yeah, missing 4 starters on O-line and no Westbrook..

Now the big, big, BIG negative:

The Colts don’t have a left tackle.

Charlie Johnson was an abject disaster.  He gave up a big hit on Peyton on the first TD drive. Manning avoided a sack with his lightening release on a sweet pass to Addai.  Then CJ followed it up on the next Colts possession by getting whipped again, leading to a sack fumble.  In fairness, Pollack got beat on the play as well (not that this makes me feel any better).

Unfortunately, Ugoh didn’t play well either.  He picked up a couple of penalties (although the second was not a good call), blew some run blocks, and looked generally lost.  Johnson left the door wide open (as we knew he would), but Ugoh didn’t walk through it.  Instead, he laid down on the welcome mat and took a little nap.

I could list a few other negatives, but this overshadows everything else.  Don’t be fooled by Peyton’s gaudy numbers.  The Philly D was playing vanilla and had a blown coverage.  The real story is that Indy is going to start the season without a credible answer at left tackle.

We’ve never been 100% sold on Ugoh and have only supported him as an alternative to Johnson who is too slow to play tackle. What concerns me is that with the job on his plate to take, Ugoh went out and played sub-standard football, making what appeared to be mental errors.  That’s the knock on him all along.  All the tools but can’t put it all together.

As I see it, the Colts’ options are limited:

  • LOTS of TE help (paging Mr. Robinson) and RB help for Johnson
  • Go with Ugoh and take the good with the bad (my vote)
  • Try to sign a veteran off the scrap heap.  The problem is that no one out there will be any better than Johnson/Ugoh.  NFL caliber LTs don’t grown on trees.

We agonized over the return of Howard Mudd, and now he has to earn his money.  He has two more weeks to get through to Ugoh (who at least has the tools to play the position).  Johnson may be a hard worker, but he simply isn’t quick enough.  Desire and effort are great, but he doesn’t have the requisite skill set to play tackle.  He’s a valuable player to have on the team.  He’s a capable backup guard.  He played great in the Super Bowl (in a soggy, wet field by the way…hard to have a guy run by you in the mud), but that doesn’t make him an NFL starter.

Mr. Mudd, you have two weeks.  The clock is ticking.

We need a left tackle.

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