Mocking the Colts: Changing Things Up

Will undrafted first-year player Terrence Johnson get his first NFL start over veterans Lacey and Tryon on Sunday night? (Brent Smith | Reuters)

The Colts started the season without 4-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning. They were beaten soundly against division rival Houston in Week 1. They failed to capitalize on their opportunity to get a win against the Browns at home in Week 2. Their defensive captain is out.

It’s at times like these that teams step back up to the drawing board. Something needs to change if Indianapolis expects a different outcome against Pittsburgh — or any opponent. Some things will happen naturally, like Kerry Collins and the offense settling into some kind of rhythm. Some things will only change if the Colts coaching staff and management makes good personnel and schematic decisions and alterations. This week, some of those tweaks are starting to happen.Most Colts fans have been shocked that third-year cornerback Jacob Lacey earned a starting job over 2010 free agent addition Justin Tryon. Tryon played an important role in the secondary in his first year with the team. He was good enough that I actually thought he should start over veteran Kelvin Hayden before the season ended.

These observations led many to believe that if there was any change at starting cornerback, it would be Tryon taking over for Lacey. Instead, Tom James of CBSSports.com Rapid Reports indicated earlier today that undrafted free agent cornerback Terrence Johnson has increased his reps this week and could be getting his first NFL start.

Coltzilla readers may find this development interesting. Johnson’s uncle wrote us following my final roster prediction prior to cut day, and he explained that not only did Terrence make the team but that he was third on the depth chart behind Powers and Lacey. He showed a great deal of confidence in his nephew and predicted that he would be starting soon, is the best cornerback on the team, and foreshadowed Pro Bowls in his nephew’s future — as early as next year.

Johnson’s uncle? A Steelers fan. It looks like there may be more than one reason for Mr. Rose to make the trip to Indianapolis.

As much as any Colts fan would be open to unveiling a new cornerback with Pro Bowl potential against the Steelers, the move still turns back to Tryon. What has happened with him that could make it so one of the team’s best cornerbacks is effectively fourth on the depth chart behind a struggling Lacey and an undrafted free agent rookie?

IndyStar.com’s Phil B. Wilson set out to get those answers when he spoke with defensive coordinator Larry Coyer earlier today:

Where’s CB Justin Tryon right now? I’m convinced this guy is in the dog house for some unexplained reason.

“You know what, any of that stuff you have to ask Jim (Caldwell), to be honest with you,” Coyer said. “I like him a lot. He’s competitive. But where that is, it’s with our head coach.”

Umm, what? You have the defensive coordinator essentially saying, “I think Tryon is a really good player, I don’t know why he’s not playing, you’ll have to talk to Caldwell on that one.” Wow. Although it would be surprising to get anything from the head coach to reveal why he is choosing to keep Tryon down on the depth chart, I think it’s pretty appropriate that he speak out here.

Wilson also indicated that he has also spoken with Tryon, who believes that he is in the dog house and does not know why.

Tryon thinks he’s in dog house. Don’t understand. Guess Colts want to use younger guys.

If Coyer is not allowed to make his own personnel decisions for the defense, how can Colts fans expect his defensive scheme to be successful? If Caldwell is overriding Coyer, some kind of explanation should be given. It’s odd for the Colts to have internal conflict that goes public and a statement like Coyer’s puts a great deal of pressure on the head coach — as if he didn’t have enough already.

Until the organization addresses the issue, Colts fans will turn their gaze to Caldwell when surprising personnel decisions are made. That is the last thing he needs at this point.

Tom James brings other news that could affect who fans will see on the field Sunday night. With both defensive tackles Fili Moala and Eric Foster questionable for the game, defensive ends Tyler Brayton and Jamaal Anderson may be asked to move inside in certain situations. Foster is more likely to take the field as he did participate in Thursday and Friday practices. Moala is doubtful, as it is extremely rare for Colts players who do not practice during the week to actually play in the game.

And for fans who have thought Kerry Collins has looked pretty bad during his first two games with the Colts, James illustrates with a pair of statistics what folks have been seeing with their eyes.

QB Kerry Collins is still trying to find some consistency after the first two games of the season. Collins has completed just 50.7 percent of his passes, last in the league, and is averaging 5.62 yards per passing attempt. That ranks 29th overall.

There’s only way place to go from there right? Right?

Yes.
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