AFC South: LP Field
How close are some key Texans to the Hall of Fame? Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report considers the question.
Another reason to like Andrew Luck: Bruce Springsteen is his favorite and he goes deep when he picks “Johnny 99” as a preferred song. Here’s a great, get-to-know-you piece from Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star. A great read. Did I mention we share an affection for The Boss?
Delone Carter ripped up his thumb in the offseason and has been in the background, but he’s still the toughest back on the Colts’ roster, says Phillip B. Wilson.
Aaron Ross’ wife qualified for the London Olympics and he will miss a bit of camp to go see her run there, says Vito Stellino.
The new video boards at LP Field are going up on schedule, says Matt Gray of The Tennessean.
The Buffalo News breaks down the key additions, losses and questions for all four AFC South teams.
The Texans came in at No. 11 on Jason Cole's ranking of NFL defensive lines, thanks largely to Mario Williams.
Guard Andy Alleman thinks he'll fit in nicely with the Colts this season.
John Oehser examines whether the Colts will be deep enough at corner.
Former Jags quarterback Mark Brunell owes $24.7 million according to his bankruptcy filing, but ex-teammates expect Brunell to land on his feet.
The Jags will have an opportunity to make a statement early this season due to a challenging start to the schedule, according to linebacker Kirk Morrison.
David Boclair of Nashville's The City Paper takes an interesting look at the life of Titans running back Chris Johnson through his online dealings on Twitter and Ustream. "Confident he has surpassed the accomplishments of peers such as Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush, Johnson has his sights set on the likes of Snooki, the Kardashians or Gene Simmons," writes Boclair.
A sinkhole 5-6 feet deep and 30 feet wide has been discovered at LP Field, which could indicate a larger problem beneath the stadium. Worse yet, the city's insurance may not cover the cost to repair it.
Across downtown on the river's east bank, water covered the grass inside LP Field, home of the Titans. The field's athletic surface was covered with water, nearly reaching the first row of seats.
In Nashville's MetroCenter, which has been evacuated for fear of a levee being compromised, the team's headquarters and practice fields are also at risk.
"Water rose to [the] edge of the practice fields and the bubble, but has fallen back some," Robbie Bohren, the team's director of media relations, told The Tennessean.
Read the full story here.
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 12:
Chris Johnson has five consecutive games in which he gained at least 125 yards rushing while averaging at least five yards per carry. In NFL history, the only other player to do that in five straight games was Jim Brown for Cleveland in 1958. Can Johnson keep it up? Arizona’s rush defense is eighth in the league, giving up 103.2 rushing yards a game and 4.3 yards a carry.
The Jaguars will be shooting for their first four-game win streak since Week 2-6 of the 2007 season. Look for a big day for the David Garrard - Mike Sims-Walker connection. The 49ers have yielded an average of 286 passing yards in their last six games, including four 300-yard games. Walker is dealing with a knee injury, but practiced with it. Jacksonville’s last trip west was a disaster. Here’s their chance to maintain control of their playoff fate and show they’ve grown into a team that can handle such a trip
It would be great if the Texans could get Kris Brown a mid- or short-range field goal chance. It’s impossible to dictate such things. But after long misses against the Colts and Titans that could have forced overtime, odds are he’s in one of those places where kickers go when things are tough. To mentally get him back, it’d be nice to send him out for a relatively easy three points. His last five tries: 56 good, 42 wide left, 49 wide right, 26 good, 49 wide left.
If home field advantage still exists for the Titans, it should show itself Sunday against Arizona. Tennessee is 2-2 at LP Field this year, but the Cardinals are the last team making its first trip to the venue. The Titans are 23-7 in such situations. Also in the Titans’ favor: They are 11-2 against the NFC since 2006, second only to the undefeated New England Patriots.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Richard in Ann Arbor, MI writes: The shadows at the old Cowboys Stadium were at least as annoying as the shadows as Lucas Oil field. This should fall under the Jerry Jones rule: If it's ok for the Cowboys to do something, it's ok for any team to do it. The Colts have nothing to apologize for.
Paul Kuharsky: I didn't suggest they had anything to apologize for. I am sure they'd like for their games to look good on TV for the fans who are not at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Matt in Murray, KY writes: In response to "Further Review: MJD's 2-pt try," The Wildcat is a great change of pace set, but why would you run it at such a critical junction of the game? Had they just handed the ball off, there was a high percentage chance that he gets in. They could have run the EXACT same play they ran on the touchdown (which by the way was a beautiful display of patience by MJD) and as a Colts fan I can say, I feel like they would have gotten in. Fortunately for myself, they did not. But had the Jaguars pulled even with 11 minutes to go, the whole dynamic of how the Colts handled their next possessions would have been different. Did the Jaguars really think that the Colts would be more concerned with Nate Hughes (who?) than Jones-Drew who just burned them on a simple outside give?
Paul Kuharsky: I agree all around. It wasn't the best play-calling moment of the game.
Jahon in San Diego, CA writes: Let's just say that Dunta's shoe stunt and his comments afterwards have ticked off most if not all of the Texan fans. Speaking for myself, it makes me worried about what type of mentality is in the locker room. Instead of the other players laughing about his stunt and his comments, someone should have gotten in his face and told him to be professional and it is not all about him, this is a team. A team is supposed to be there to win.
Paul Kuharsky: Yes, I agree that a leader should have worked to set things straight. Maybe one did so behind the scenes. But once Robinson said what he did about it, someone else should have worked to drown it out with some volume.
Greg in Houston, TX writes: I was getting rather ill with the Dunta Robinson contractual issues and his hold out to prove his point. When he returned, I, like many others, thought that he would put his love of the game above everything else when the season started. His words and his preparation to return caused me to give him the benefit of a doubt. But now with the "Pay Me Rick" message written on his shoe causes me to believe that he can't get past this. I was wondering what possibilities were out there for trade considerations. What is his trade value for a draft pick? Is there another team that is need for a starting corner, such as DR, and would it be a player/player trade or a draft pick trade?
Paul Kuharsky: No one.
No one is trading anything for a guy whose contract worth nearly $10 million is guaranteed and who’s not under contract beyond this year.
I understand a lot of people are upset with him, but you'll have to come to terms that he’s going to be around. He can't be dealt or cut with that price. Also, more importantly he still rates as their best defensive back.
Roger in Nashville writes: Paul, Why is it that the Titans are soooo cheap. We were hoping they will go after Torry Holt or Hank Baskett but they rather settle for Paul Williams and Edison. We know is not a matter of money since they have the cap space but they just keep trying to get by with less. Have somebody explained to Bud Adams that these are his last years to get to a Super Bowl ring and that it is worth the investment.
Paul Kuharsky: I think you are wrong to assume it's about cost. They liked Holt a little bit at a certain value. The Jags liked him much more and at a higher value. I can't see that he'd rank ahead of Justin Gage, Nate Washington or Kenny Britt right now. They spent big dollars, by the way, on Washington, and a valuable first-round pick on Britt and a first-round contract on him.
With those three and Scaife and Cook, I don't believe they feel like they need Baskett and I tend to agree.
If they didn't play Edison in the opener even with Washington limited and if Paul Williams is on the practice squad, not on the 53-man roster, I'm not sure I understand the complaint about having them around. Edison is promising, and they should continue to try to develop young guys despite their failures doing so with receivers. Williams' time is up, in my opinion. But at least he is not taking up a roster spot any longer.
Also what makes you certain Baskett is getting any sort of significant money? It's a one-year deal, likely for the minimum, maybe with some incentives. The Colts were looking for a guy who could fill in as high on the depth chart as second, the Titans weren't. So what makes you certain Baskett would have preferred Nashville to Indy, anyway?
Fred Scheppele in Colorado Springs, Colorado writes: Who do you think would play more effectively for the Colts, or provide more game day value: 1) a veteran signed three days before the game that does not know the play book and has not practiced much with the QB (Hank Baskett), or 2) a rookie who was not talented enough to make the final 53 man roster, but was on the practice squad, knows the playbook, and went through the preseason working with the QB (Taj Smith or maybe John Matthews).
Paul Kuharsky: I think you're missing a third option, where they lean more heavily on Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme and Hank Baskett maybe plays only in specific situations -- maybe in the red zone. Then his role can increase as he gets up to speed.
I think that's what they are doing. Bill Polian doesn't look outside often, so when he does I think it tells us where they stand on in-house alternatives -- in this case Smith and Matthews.
Peter in Nashville writes: Hey Paul, So my roommate and I were talking and had a question so I decided I would forward it to you. We both seem to remember there being some reason why LP Field is not eligible to hold the Super Bowl but neither of us could remember why. It is certainly big enough as it hold more than Tampa's field so I just wanted to see if I could steal from your bank of knowledge. Thanks.
Paul Kuharsky: Because it's cold and potentially wet in Nashville in January and February. Warm-weather cities or indoor venues only for the Super Bowl.
Weller Ross in Knoxville, TN writes: Hey Paul, I was just wondering if you know of anywhere out there where I can find the statistics for number of times a receiver was targeted. I've read multiple times now that Reggie Wayne was targeted 14 times, and I was curious as to how that compared to other receivers in the league. Thanks.
Paul Kuharsky: Click on a score at NFL.com to get to the Game Center page. from there, look for the red link to the official "game book." That's the stat package from the game, and if you find the section that details catches, it starts with "targets." (Click here for the game book from Jaguars-Colts. Scroll to "Final Individual Stats" on the second page.)
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
» Complete stadium ratings: Team-by-team glance
Houston Texans (Reliant Stadium, capacity 71,054)
Reliant Stadium is an impressive building that fits right into the love Texas has for all things big, though it’s not to the scale of Cowboys Stadium. The one-time Eighth Wonder of the World, the Astrodome, sits beside Reliant, and seems like a small pod preparing to dock with the mother ship.
Upstairs is pretty steep, but it seems to me there is a good view from everywhere in the building, which also serve as the team’s headquarters. When the retractable roof is closed, it can be awfully loud in there. Ticket-buyers just need more to cheer about. Smartly designed to fit soccer games, too.
Wow factor: 4.5 wows (out 0f 5)
Indianapolis Colts (Lucas Oil Stadium, capacity 63,000)
|Tom Hauck/Getty Images|
|The Colts are in their second season playing in Lucas Oil Stadium.|
Entering its second season as the replacement for the RCA Dome, Lucas Oil Stadium has an exceptionally airy feeling for a retractable roof stadium even when everything is closed. The roof parts side to side rather than end to end, and a gigantic window facing the city also opens. (Shadows cast on the field with the roof open last Sunday made for some difficult TV watching, some viewers said.)
You can walk to it from virtually any downtown hotel or restaurant, and you’re better off eating before the game because the food offerings are one giant weakness. It’s a unique building that surpasses Reliant by just a touch as the division’s best.
Wow factor: 5 wows
Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, capacity 67,164)
I’ve long said it’s an underrated venue, but it’s a pretty straightforward building with no discernible bells and whistles, which is why it would be better if it had more neighborhood surroundings. It also serves as home to the Jaguars' headquarters and the annual Georgia-Florida game.
Lots of people like to point out that the team’s ticket-sales struggles come despite the tarps covering large sections of seats. But even minus those seats, the place holds more than either Soldier Field and Heinz Field. I’d put it at the top of the bottom tier, but I’d sure rather watch a game there than in venues like the ones in San Francisco, San Diego, St. Louis or Minnesota.
Wow factor: 1.5 wows
Tennessee Titans (LP Field, capacity 69,143)
The best thing about LP Field is location. Fans can park or party in the heart of downtown, then walk over one of a couple bridges in 10 minutes and get to the game. The building that’s been known as Adelphia Coliseum, the Coliseum and now LP Field was not overbuilt. Open concourses behind just one level of stands in both end zones provide a nice, open feel.
Recent updates improved the scoreboards and JumboTrons. It's also soccer ready. But measured against many other buildings we’ve seen pop up since 1999 -- like those in Indy, Houston, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia and New England -- LP doesn’t rank as a place for pizzazz. I rank it middle of the pack.
Wow factor: 2 wows
The NFL Players Association annual survey of the league's playing surfaces is out, and here are details on how players view the four home fields in the AFC South.
It's a bit confusing: Players voted on best and worst artificial surfaces (there are 13, with Giants and Jets sharing one) and best and worst grass fields (there are 18). Some fields kind of came out in a similar position on each list, others did not.
Reliant Stadium was 10th on the best grass fields list and 9th on the worst list.
Lucas Oil Stadium debuted at No. 1 on the best artificial fields list and was 10th on the worst list.
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was fifth on the best grass list and 16th on the worst list.
LP Field was 11th on the best grass field list and tied for 10th on the worst list.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It's rained most of the morning and early afternoon in Music City, but word is it's finished.
The grounds crew is still folding up the tarp, and though early-arriving fans were working their way to their seats, the Titans' strength and conditioning coach was finishing up a workout with injured and inactive center Kevin Mawae.
They just finished running LP Field's wet stairs a little while ago.
I'm guessing the few fans who were at their seats didn't realize a guy who was just named an All-Pro for the third time in his career was running by.
|Tennessee's Kerry Collins has a considerable advantage in experience over Baltimore's Joe Flacco in Saturday's playoff game.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky and John Clayton
We're pleased to have special guest John Clayton join us at the AFC South blog to engage in a dialogue/debate focused on Saturday's Ravens-Titans playoff game in Nashville.
So without further ado ...
Who's most likely to find a big play?
Paul Kuharsky: Well, JC, it's hard to steer away from Ed Reed on this question, but because I think that's exactly what Kerry Collins is going to do, I'll go a different direction. In the regular-season matchup, receiver Brandon Jones managed a 26-yard catch for the game's long play. This time around I think the Titans will remain dedicated to the run long enough that rookie running back Chris Johnson will break off something significant somewhere along the way. The one thing -- besides the Ravens' stifling run defense, of course -- that could work against the fastest player in this game is a wet track and there is the potential for rain or snow flurries at the conclusion of a wet week in Nashville.
John Clayton: You're in Nashville so you can better monitor the track than me, but the early forecasts are for the temperature to be around 32 degrees and the sun to be out. Naturally, when you mention big play, Reed registers on pop-up screens and in everyone's minds. But I will offer one big-play guy whom you've been touting all season -- Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan. He was among the best interceptors at cornerback this season with five. As it did in the first Titans-Ravens game, the Titans' defensive line will try to force Joe Flacco out of the pocket and get him to throw on the run. The two picks in the first Titans-Ravens game hurt the Ravens. Finnegan could be the big-play man for the Titans.
|Wesley Hitt/Getty Images|
|Home-field advantage doesn't mean as much during the divisional round of the playoffs.|
How much will home field matter?
JC: The Titans have one of the best home-field advantages in the league, but home field in the divisional round has been a 50-50 proposition. From 2005 through 2007, home teams in the divisional round are 6-6. The problem isn't the home field. The problem is the bye week. Playoff teams coming off the bye week aren't used to the speed of the divisional games in the first quarters. Titans safety Chris Hope has been warning the Titans about that for two weeks. He saw it happen in Pittsburgh when he was on that Steelers 15-1 team in 2004. Bye weeks are great for getting teams healthy, but these wild-card teams are talented and dangerous. The Ravens showed how dangerous they are in Miami last week and might be able to do the same Saturday. As you know, the Ravens-Titans series is a good one. The teams don't like each other. The Titans went to Baltimore and pulled out a close victory. It wouldn't surprise me if the Ravens give the Titans plenty of problems.
PK: It's also true that while the field formerly known as Adelphia Coliseum was an absolutely raucous venue back in 1999 and 2000, it's overrated as a tough place to play these days, at least in terms of noise and crowd impact. Back on Dec. 21 in a huge game against Pittsburgh with the AFC's No. 1 seed on the line, 10 to 15 percent of the 69,143 ticketholders at the Titans' home field either switched allegiances or sold their tickets to people dressed in gold and black and waving Terrible Towels. If the Titans start well, they'll certainly get an energy boost. But Collins has been a slow starter this season and Nashville is nervous about this game -- how could it not be when it ponders the eerie similarity between this and the divisional-round game on Jan. 7, 2001, when the No. 1-seeded Titans won virtually every statistical category, but watched the Ravens make the big plays and roll to a stunning 24-10 win? If these Ravens make a big play early and quiet the crowd, they could enjoy a significant edge.
|Relive the Titans' impressive run to the AFC South crown and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.|
Will Collins' experience trump Flacco's inexperience?
PK: Although Collins has a lot of detractors, he is the easy answer here. He shook off a poor start -- he had a 13.5 first-half passer rating -- in the Titans' regular-season win in Baltimore, and although all his postseason experience hasn't been good experience, he's got an awful lot more than Flacco. This season, Collins has been willing to check down or throw the ball away on a bad play and quickly turn to the next one. Titans fans shouldn't bemoan any balls he slings out of bounds, because holding on to it an extra second could produce a big-play sack or trying to thread the needle could result in Reed winding his way to the end zone with a pick return. Both quarterbacks will try to be careful, but I suspect Flacco will be the more likely to make the big mistake.
JC: Flacco looked like a rookie in the first meeting against the Titans. He doesn't look like a rookie now. Unflappable seems to be the word that is associated with him. No team runs the ball more than the Ravens. They averaged 37 carries a game during the regular season. He reminds me of Ben R
oethlisberger during Big Ben's rookie season. I'm not going write him off as the one who will make the mistakes. The key for him is not being flushed out of the pocket. If he's flushed out to the right, I bet you he'll throw a pick. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron won't let him do that. You have to admit that both quarterbacks had some of the best coaching in the league. Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger made all the right moves with Collins. As good as the Titans' defense is, I think the Ravens have the better chance of taking away the run, and if that happens, it might give Collins more opportunities to make mistakes than Flacco.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the heyday of their AFC Central rivalry, Baltimore-Tennessee games ended in scores like 12-8, 16-14 and 16-10.
In Week 5 this season, the Titans won in Baltimore, 13-10.
While the NFL average on making field goals was 84.5 percent, the Titans led the NFL in opponent field goal percentage, as kickers converted just 66.7 percent.
"They rush really well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They do a great job with their edge pressure, probably as good as anybody in the league, and they've got some big, physical guys inside that play really hard and bring it. I think they pressure the field goal kick unit very well."
Might that mean the Titans will see a timely miss by Baltimore veteran Matt Stover?
If they do, it'll be a first. He's 10-for-10 all-time at LP Field, including five-for-five on kicks over 40 yards.
One other note on kickers:
Baltimore's Steve Hauschka put four of his six kickoffs in the wild-card playoff game at Miami into the end zone, three for touchbacks. But he had the help of warm weather and wind. In nine regular-season games, he had just four touchbacks on 43 kickoffs. Odds are that Chris Carr, the NFL's fourth-leading kickoff return man, will get some chances against the Ravens.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Some headlines to help tide you over and get you ready for opening day of the NFL playoffs. I'm hardly alone in regarding this weekend and next as the four best days of the season.
I'll be talking to you later from Qualcomm Stadium. It's a dreary, wet day in San Diego so far.
The final defensive stats illustrate the need for change with the Texans, Megan Manfull writes.
Colts-Chargers pits two indomitable quarterbacks, writes Karen Crouse.
Peyton Manning joins Brett Favre as a three-time MVP, says Mike Chappell.
The Colts expect a much better pass rush than they got in last year's playoff loss to the Chargers, writes Chappell.
Indy is wary of receiver Vincent Jackson, according to Phillip B. Wilson.
Stopping big plays is another way the Colts can change their fortunes from some recent games against the Chargers, says Phil Richards.
Who has the edge? Wilson takes a look.
Another matchup breakdown from Justin A. Cohn.
The Colts say they've forgotten about last year's loss to San Diego, says Cohn.
Police release details of Richard Collier's shooting, the Times-Union reports.
It's going to be a busy offseason for Jack Del Rio, says Tania Ganguli.
The Titans were the NFL's best kickoff return team, thanks in large part to Chris Carr, writes Jim Wyatt.
Tight end Bo Scaife, a free-agent to be, is hoping to stay with the Titans, says Gary Estwick.
The grounds crew has put down new sod at LP Field to be ready for the Titans Jan. 10 playoff game, reports Wyatt.
Albert Haynesworth says his knee is feeling better, according to Wyatt.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Three hours before the game, a tech guy does an annoyingly long check of the referee's microphone. When the officials first come on the field, they do another. And because referee John Parry was having problems early in the game, there was a short test between the first and second quarters.
His microphone didn't work in the second and third quarters, and left two calls that needed a lot of explanation hanging in the air.
In a three-play span at the end of the third quarter, there were two confusing calls -- or at least they were confusing when Parry was unable to convey them to those in attendance through the magic of amplified sound.
A flag was dropped on Kerry Collins' pass thrown into the end zone for Brandon Jones, who got a bit tangled with defensive backs Ryan Clark and Bryant McFadden. It seemed they were going to call pass interference, then it seemed they were indicating the ball had been tipped. Then Jeff Fisher threw a challenge flag, the officials discussed things with him and the flag got picked up. After the game, Fisher said officials were saying the players got tripped up, not that there was a tip.
Then on a fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line, the Titans were lining up for a field goal attempt and James Harrison was called for simulating the snap count, which is a personal foul. Fans also went without clarification for that call.
In a world with instant replay, first-down lines on TV and high definition JumboTrons, it's hardly unreasonable to expect that the official's microphone will work reliably.
Every ticket buyer deserves a $5 check from the league for the gaffe. They pay for a better experience than that.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There are a surprising number of Steelers fans at LP Field.
If you are a Titans season-ticket holder, isn't this just the kind of game you were making sure you were covered for when you made the purchase? I understand there are some fans who probably paid for their playoff tickets by selling this game. But still...
Unless you needed to dump your pair to put presents under the Christmas tree, what's the rationale for yielding your seat to someone dressed in black and gold? And how are you going to feel watching all the Terrible Towels waving on the broadcast?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The scoreboard at the North end of LP Field isn't working, which means the Titans' offense is moving in a direction where Kerry Collins doesn't have a play clock to refer to.
To even things out, the play clock at the other end has been turned off.
It has not appeared to be an issue for Collins, Ken Dorsey or their offenses so far.
The Browns have an early 3-0 lead.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Bet you think you've got better questions than these.
Prove it here.
Brian in Indianapolis writes: Thanks for "spanning the globe" in the AFC South. I really like the reads for each team. I especially loved the reads today. The article about the warm-ups gave me chills. It was a realization of the passing of the torch, however, with Marvin no longer participating in the passing sequence with Peyton. Makes a Colts fan like me a little sad. I love Marvin. I'm tired of critics putting him down, and I hope he finds a way to go out...back on top.
Paul Kuharsky: Hardly anyone goes out on top, or close to it. Jerome Bettis' story was so good because it was so rare.
You should email Phil Richards about that story, I am sure he would appreciate the feedback. It was a great read and I am glad I could help steer you to it. We at The AFC South Blog aim to be THE stop for info, links, commentary, analysis and anything else we can think of or you can suggest.
Jahon in San Diego writes: Do you believe the Texans are going to clean house this offseason? The Chronicle reporters are talking about drafting a QB in the first and talks about firings are one for two in Houston as well. What is your take on it all? Have you heard anything regarding this? Thanks for going into depth on the Texans, its hard to find any information on them. The "Talking Heads" never mention them and both ESPN and CNNSI draw a blank when it comes to articles about the Texans. Really, its only you and the chron.com that us misplaced Texans fans have to rely on. Thanks, Jahon
Paul Kuharsky: It's too early to say for sure. I think they can do enough that Gary Kubiak will survive, but the quick turnarounds going on in Miami, Baltimore and Atlanta have to make Bob McNair at least take pause. The Texans probably make a change at defensive coordinator. I think they really need to pour picks and free agents into the defense. I could see them sticking with Matt Schaub if he gets healthy and has a reasonable finish. But there will have to be a lot of action elsewhere to calm the city down and convince people they are moving in the right direction.
Aryan in Baltimore writes: Hey how's it going. I was wondering what the chances are that wide receiver Matt Jones will win his appeal, and following this, will him filing appeal mean he will play more games before his (probable and inevitable)suspension. -Thanks, Aryan Vahedi
Paul Kuharsky: I think it's ridiculous they haven't ruled on the appeal yet. If he 'wins' it'll be reduced, not erased. I've heard it's unlikely to even be reduced, but that was a while ago already. And now he could miss Sunday with a thigh injury.
Matt in the Nashville-area writes: I don't know if you've taken a look at the Pro Bowl vote on nfl.com yet, but I thought you would find this interesting. Bo Scaife, the Titans leading receiver and one of the leading TE's in the league, is not even a choice that fans can vote for in the Pro Bowl. Alge Crumpler is the only TE listed for the Titans. I tried sending a letter to nfl.com about this, but obviously they care very little that Matt from Nashville thinks Bo Scaife deserves to at least be on the ballot. I don't know if there's any way to fix this now, since other players have been receiving votes for a few weeks now. I also find it funny that nfl.com does not even list the players' stats next to their names. I guess the Pro Bowl truly is filled with the most popular players, as opposed to the best players. While I realize that this is not nfl.com, and that you do not work for nfl.com, I was just hoping to get this at least some recognition in one form or another. Thanks.
Paul Kuharsky: Sorry you missed this, but here's the explanation.
Unknown in FT Washington, MD or FT in Washington, MD writes: Do you that both of Tennessee's running backs will gain a thousand yards a piece this year?
Paul Kuharsky: No. LenDale White's on pace for only about 750, it would be awfully tough for him to get there.
Adam in Alexandria, VA writes: Hey Paul, I know you're a busy man, but I thought I would throw another question your way. I was curious about the extent to which coaches scout officiating crews and to what extent (if any) they tinker with gameplans depending on a crew's tendencies to call or not call various infractions. Specifically, I am curious to see how the Titans' DB's will play the Colts' WRs tonight. I didn't see the game, but it is my understanding that the Packers bumped the WRs a good deal and that in some cases they might have been flagged for PI or illegal contact, but the refs let them play. I know you wrote several weeks ago about the Cots' displeasure with a lack of holding calls and the drop in such calls recently. Are crews also placing less emphasis on contact downfield after it was such a point of emphasis in '05 & '06? I can't remember the Titans being flagged once for PI, yet I can recall several cases where it appeared that their receivers (McCareins in particular on several occasions) were held or interfered with. Is there anything to this in your opinion? Cheers, Adam
Paul Kuharsky: Some teams really make a big deal out of it, others not so much.
When I was at The Tennessean I did a story about how the Titans had fared in game officiated by certain referees. Kevin Mawae told me when he was with the Jets he got a weekly scouting report on the officiating crew. But it seems Jeff Fisher wants his guys playing the technique they are taught every week, not thinking they can cut or a corner here or need to be more careful there. Colts president Bill Polian 'discusses' elements of officiating a lot, and it could have a bearing on how their games are called sometimes.
Ryan from Pennsylvania writes: After the Titans back to back big wins, is realistic to see the Titans going undefeated? Many people had their two biggest games these past two weeks and in my opinion they passed with flying colors. I mean the Green Bay game was clearly not a pretty one, but as you said every good team needs to find different ways to win, and they did. I see one game on the schedule that frightens me a little, and that is the Steelers game. Though that game is at home, and I think in the end that benefits the Titans. If you don't see them going undefeated, what is a realistic record for them, and is your thoughts about them in the playoffs?
Paul Kuharsky: I hit on the remaining schedule in this post.
I agree with the Titans they have not played their best yet. I also believe they have not played their worst yet and so I expect a dud somewhere along the way.
I actually think they matchup great with Pittsburgh -- Titans D-line can give Steelers O-line fits, though Big Ben is capable of making some clutch throw with people hanging off of him.
Eric Larence from parts unknown writes: Paul - I do not want to dwell on the negatives for the Titans, but what is Vince Young doing? I have noticed that during home games he stands on the opposite side where the rest of the offensive players gather, away from the action and coaches (Tony Dungy does this as well - on another subject). After offensive series Collins goes over everything and looks at coverages Chris Simms is always right there, but never Vince. Isn't that how he learns? To get in the mix?
How is that not being addressed by the Titans?
Paul Kuharsky: I've gotten several mailbag questions on this and will touch on a few elements of it before we finish here.
I feel like the Titans have basically decided they are going to let him do what he feels is right and hope he comes to realize some things on his own. At a certain point, you don't send someone to hold his hand and bring him where he should be. I'm not sure they are devoting a lot of energy to him right now and I don't have a big beef if that's the case.
Josh in Charlotte writes: Hey Paul. What is going on with Ryan Lilja (RG) of the Colts? Is he going to be put on the active roster this year or will he be put on IR because of not being ready? Thx!
Paul Kuharsky: They have three weeks from the point where they "activated" him to decide. I haven't heard much recently but early indications were he was going to be a long shot.
Double A in Muncie, IN writes: Please tell me "The Album" is the coolest nickname for LP Field you've ever heard. Music City...LP vinyl albums...get it? Spread the word now. Unimaginative and easy stuff luck "Woodshed" bores me out of my mind!
Paul Kuharsky: The Album is a great nickname. I have to give credit -- I first heard it from Mark Howard of 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.
Trouble is, anyone under 35 or so has little chance of knowing what an album is, better yet an LP. So it's only good for us old folks.
John in Jenks, OK writes: Paul, Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm curious about the Titans QB situation. Collins is playing great but is a free agent after this year. Fisher has said Simms is "in their long term plans". Young continues to draw criticism for appearing to "sulk" and be a loner on the sidelines during games. So who do YOU think will be starting week 1 next season: Collins, Simms, Young, or someone else? Thanks!
Paul Kuharsky: They don't know so I certainly can't pretend to.
Collins could be back, as I don't expect the market for him to be very strong. I don't think he'll find a better situation if they want him in Nashville. He's been great for the Titans. But if they are unsentimental about it, I think they may conclude there are a lot of guys who can do what he's being asked to do. Simms may be one of them.
Young will definitely get one more chance to seize the job. I don't know that he can.
Jenny from Brentwood writes: Colts question here. Actually - a Peyton Manning question. How much longer do you think Peyton will play? He's 30-something, right? Sometimes it seems like longevity is an issue with quarterbacks, but on the other hand, we've got Garcia, K. Collins, Todd Collins, Gus Frerotte, Kurt Warner....... Most of those have had a few "sit down" years, though. Peyton seems fine, seems to be playing well, etc. So do you think he has 2 years left, 5 years left or 10 years left? What do you think? Also - part two - do you think Peyton will remain part of football in the media vein or through coaching? I think he would make a fabulous coach.
Paul Kuharsky: He's 32. I'd guess he will play for at least six more years. He's got a lot of time left as a top guy.
I don't know about coaching -- a lot of guys after their time in the limelight don't want a coach's lifestyle or hours. He'd be taking a pay cut, working long days and dealing with quarterbacks who wouldn't be able to do a lot of the things he did.
He'd be very good on TV and I am sure the networks will chase him hard when the time comes.
Ben in Christchurch, New Zealand writes: With the issues Mike Peterson is currently going through, are the Jags better as a group at LB with Smith starting in the middle, or with Peterson starting in the middle? Obviously Peterson has had his issues with injuries over the last few years.
Paul Kuharsky: Ben wins a prize for writing from the furthest away. Give him a bumper sticker.
To me it's more about Clint Ingram, who's been underwhelming this season. Are they better right now with Peterson or Ingram on the field? I'd have to say Peterson. But Friday Jack Del Rio said Peterson is now depth and Smith is staying as the starter in the middle.
Garl from parts unknown writes: I'm a Titans fan and enjoying the ride. I only wonder what the win total would be with Vince playing all 9 games. 6-3 7-2? Whats your take?
Paul Kuharsky: Tough one. My guess is they'd have lost three or four of these five: Jacksonville, Baltimore, Indy, Green Bay, Chicago.