AFC South: Ricardo Mathews

Colts' performance-based pay

March, 25, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Nine Indianapolis Colts players received performance-based incentives for more than $100,000 each during the 2013 season. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman and offensive line Hugh Thornton both earned more than $218,000.

The incentives are based off playing time and a player’s base salary. Veteran backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck received only $827.05 out of the $3.46 million which teams are allotted. The money usually benefits minimum-salaried free-agent signings and players on their first NFL contracts who end up playing a lot.

Here’s a breakdown of the top-10 performance bonuses on the Colts.

LB Jerrell Freeman $248,772.35

OL Hugh Thornton $218,167.75

WR T.Y. Hilton $162,808.35

FB Stanley Havili $132,945.28

TE Jack Doyle $128,223.40

DE Ricardo Mathews $118,490.40

LB Cam Johnson $109,230.89

WR Griff Whalen $101,056.36

LB Kelvin Sheppard $100,435.98

LB Mario Harvey $92,307.29

Here’s a breakdown of the bottom-10 performance bonuses on the roster.

WR Reggie Wayne $6,651.65

TE Dwayne Allen $5,711.86

C Khaled Holmes $4,695.54

TE Justice Cunningham $3,913.60

OL Donald Thomas $3,384.86

K Adam Vinatieri $2,738.82

RB Robert Hughes $2,618.30

RB Kerwynn Williams $2,494.16

OL Thomas Austin $1,816.86

QB Matt Hasselbeck $827.05
Indianapolis' offensive line and interior defensive line are so thinned out by injuries that Jeff Saturday joked with Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star about deviating from the team’s next-man-up mantra.

"We (are) going to have to start bringing in some next men," Saturday said.

Monday night in a loss at Tampa Bay, defensive tackle Eric Foster dislocated his right ankle. Tuesday he had season-ending surgery. Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo left the stadium with a boot on his left foot and walking with the aid of crutches and his replacement, Ben Ijalana, had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter after damaging his left knee, Chappell says.

According to the report, Ijalana could be out for the season with ACL damage.

The team is expected to elevate one of the defensive tackles from its practice squad, Ricardo Matthews or Ollie Ogbu.

The Colts were already thin on the offensive line before Monday night’s game, with Ryan Diem out and Joe Reitz hurting. They signed offensive tackle Mike Tepper from the practice squad Monday afternoon. He wound up playing right tackle after Castonzo and Ijalana went down.

We’ll learn more about the offensive linemen today.

But things are certainly a mess on the injury front. Again.

UPDATE, 12:15 p.m.: The Colts put Ijalana and Foster on IR and waiveed linebacker Nate Triplett. They signed offensive tackles Michael Toudouze and Quinn Ojinnaka as well as Mathews.
The transcript of Bill Polian’s weekly radio show always ranks as a must read, and you can find the whole thing here.

I found this discussion of linebacker and defensive tackle play especially interesting.
Q: Is there any thought about getting Pat Angerer on the field at outside backer to get he and Clint Session on the field at the same time? Wouldn't that compensate for the weakness at defensive tackle? And with Antonio Johnson hurt, will Ricardo Mathews get more playing time?

A: "The answer to the second question is yes. In answer to the first question, is I guess I would say, 'Right church, wrong pew.' There's no question that Pat and Clint are very explosive, aggressive, instinctive players. You would like to get them on the field together if you could, in some form or fashion. The question is, 'How do you do that?' We don't measure it based on statistics, especially tackles, because that's a statistic that's not very reliable. But in terms of the way they play, their quickness to the ball, their ability to punch people when they tackle, their instincts -- very similar. How do you do that? The staff's sitting down and thinking about that right now.

"As to the purported weakness at defensive tackle, it is not based on ability as much as it is on function. We are not functioning at the correct fundamental level at that position, which is why it can be corrected and it will get better. Of course, having Mookie Johnson back would certainly help and Rico will have some difficulty when he's first in there, because that's the toughest position for a rookie to learn how to play in the National Football League other than quarterback. For example, [second-year defensive tackle] Fili [Moala] is having a heck of a year. Well, it's his second year. He should. A year ago people were complaining about Fili. We said, 'Give him time. Everything will be OK.' Rico's going to struggle, too. The bad news is we haven't been having the kind of play at defensive tackle that we did last year. The good news is we can correct that fundamentally. That's one of the things that John Teerlinck, our great defensive line coach, was trying to get done during the bye week. We can get better at that."

So if Moala is having a heck of a year, the primary offenders who are “not functioning at the correct fundamental level” are Daniel Muir, who starts beside Moala, and Johnson who’s been the third tackle. Johnson just had knee surgery, so he's expected to miss Monday night, opening the door for Mathews, a seventh-round draft pick out of Cincinnati.

Interior line play improved last year and that boost was a significant factor for a Super Bowl team. It sounds like Polian thinks it’s backtracked this season.

The Texans are sure to try to give it a significant test with Arian Foster getting carries between the tackles. Did things get fixed during the bye week or will the interior guys show us more of the same?

Checking in on AFC South draft picks

September, 7, 2010
A look at AFC South draft picks heading into opening day …

Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
  • First-rounder Jerry Hughes is in line to work as the third or fourth defensive end.
  • Second-rounder Pat Angerer is a backup linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Third-rounder Kevin Thomas (knee), a cornerback, is on IR.
  • Fourth-rounder Jacques McClendon is the backup right guard.
  • Fifth-rounder Brody Eldridge is the starting H-back.
  • Seventh-rounder Ricardo Mathews is a backup defensive lineman.
  • Seventh-rounder Kavell Conner is a backup linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Seventh-rounder Ray Fisher, a cornerback and return man, was cut. (Not put on IR as I originally wrote.)
Jacksonville Jaguars
  • First-rounder Tyson Alualu is a starting defensive tackle.
  • Third-rounder D’Anthony Smith (Achilles), a defensive tackle, is on IR.
  • Fifth-rounder Larry Hart is the second-string right defensive end.
  • Fifth-rounder Austen Lane is the third-string left defensive end.
  • Sixth-rounder Deji Karim is the third-string running back and the top kick returner, though he could be slowed early with a thumb injury.
  • Sixth-rounder Scotty McGee is the punt returner.
Tennessee Titans
  • First-rounder Derrick Morgan is part of the rotation at defensive end.
  • Third-rounder Damian Williams is the second return man and the fifth or sixth receiver.
  • Third-rounder Rennie Curran is a backup linebacker and special-teamer.
  • Fourth-rounder Alterraun Verner could be part of a rotation at right cornerback.
  • Fifth-rounder Robert Johnson is a third-string safety.
  • Sixth-rounder Rusty Smith is the third-string quarterback.
  • Sixth-rounder Myron Rolle, a safety, was cut and is on the practice squad.
  • Seventh-rounder Marc Mariani is the return man and the fifth of sixth receiver.
  • Seventh-rounder David Howard, a defensive tackle, was cut.
Some thoughts from Colts president Bill Polian on his final three picks in the draft and the Colts’ expectations for late-rounders and free agents.

On seventh-round defensive end Ricardo Mathews: “He is a power defensive end. He can also move inside and rush in the forefront. He is a real physical, hard-nosed tough football player. We like everything about him in that role. We think some of the things we are going to do on defense this year, we’ll have a specialized role for him and we feel really good about it.”

On seventh-round linebacker Kavell Conner: "He is very smart and very tuned in. He can fly around and run and hit guys, which is typical of the kind of linebackers that we like. He is very similar to Clint Session. Very similar."

On seventh-round cornerback Ray Fisher: "He is a kick and punt returner as well as a very good corner. He played obviously at a high level of competition and had a lot of success in the return game. We felt he was a dual-purpose guy, and a guy that could very likely make our team and contribute in a lot of ways as a ‘gunner’ on special teams and things of that nature, in addition to the return game.”

On success with late picks and undrafted rookies: "We, more than anybody, the statistics show we have more second-day draft choices and collegiate free agents who play critical roles for us than any team in the National Football League. In a salary cap environment, which I hope we’ll be going back to in a year, you have to do that. If you have highly paid stars that you keep, which we do, then you have to do that."