Monday, October 24, 2011
What I think they should be thinking
By Paul Kuharsky
What they should be thinking in the headquarters of the three AFC South teams who played on Sunday ...
The rollercoaster has climbed the steep section of track again. There cannot be another free fall coming. Of our eight remaining opponents, three have winning records, and we should be able to hang with Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Cincinnati. The other five teams have a combined 8-23 record. The table is set for us, but we’ve heard it before. People will be high on us again now, and we need not to hear it. Danieal Manning has been very solid for us at safety, and now we’re going to miss him for a long stretch, or maybe the season. Has Troy Nolan developed enough for us to be able to survive that loss? If he’s ready to play at a solid level, we should be in good shape going forward. With Jacksonville and Cleveland coming to town, we can’t let down, but we should be 6-3 in a couple weeks.
What a disaster. What do we do from here? The Saints are way better than us, but our coaches have to give us a better chance than they did with that plan. Typically a team in our position would still have guys feeling like they need to bust it the rest of the way to enhance their status going forward. But our stars are safe, with reputations that can’t be ruined. And our fringe guys will get tossed aside in large quantity as we revamp after the season. So as we hear about Jim Caldwell’s uncertain future, it’s hard to know what exactly we are sticking together for beyond personal pride. And even personal pride gets worn down during a season like this. Tennessee is going to be looking for a big bounce back after its debacle against Houston. It’s probably not an ideal scenario for us to break through. But at this point what would be such a scenario?
The time for patience is over. Under Mike Munchak, the theme’s been to know what you’re supposed to do and do it. Chris Johnson looked timid and uninterested against the Texans, and I’m sure that’s not in his job description. The interior line is a mess when it comes to run blocking. This is supposed to be a new era of accountability, and the ultimate way to make people accountable is to take away playing time. Whether it’s center Eugene Amano or left guard Leroy Harris, it’s time to pull an offensive lineman and see if things don’t get better with Fernando Velasco starting. And Johnson doesn’t need to sit entirely. How about working him as a third-down back? Against a tougher defense, I’d make that move. But Johnson should be able to get it going against the Colts, who can’t tackle at all. If CJ doesn’t make anything happen early, we need to be ready to turn to Javon Ringer.