- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Reading the coverage…
Cut-blocking, which is legal, is viewed as "cowardly," per Cleveland defensive end Jayme Mitchell via the Akron Beacon-Journal, writes Jeffrey Martin of the Houston Chronicle. The Texans continue to hear opponents grumble about their style. But when opponents say "dirty," the Texans hear "hard," as in the opposite of "soft," which is a tag that has saddled the team for years. That their style gets in people’s heads ahead of time gives them an advantage, I believe. They are a tougher football team than they used to be.
Cut blocking is legal. But Jerome Solomon of the Chronicle asks if it’s ethical. I ask if a football team needs to be concerned with such a question as it tries to plot a course to success. The Texans are very good at what they do, and have built a roster to do it.
What has Chris Polian done to assure his long-term security, asks Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star. Kravitz spoke to several former Colts people who said Polian has been “a toxic force who has brought this franchise to its knees for reasons other than Peyton Manning's injury.” “Tell me, what has Chris Polian actually done besides win the genetic lottery?” Wow. Those are some very strong words.
Special teams coverage and returns have stubbornly defied sustained improvement for years, writes Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star. Through three head coaches and special teams coordinators -- Jim Mora and Kevin Spencer, 1998-2001; Tony Dungy and Russ Purnell, 2002-08; Jim Caldwell and Ray Rychleski, 2009-present -- they have remained largely substandard. I believe the team is simply too willing to not be good on special teams.
Gene Frenette of the Times-Union offers his midseason report card for the Jaguars. He’s got an F for passing offense and a D for coaching, grades that offset some Bs.
“It would completely fly in the face of (Wayne) Weaver’s image as a patient owner to jettison (Gene) Smith after three years,” writes Frenette. “My goodness, he’s given (Jack) Del Rio nine years, longer than any coach in history without winning a division title. He gave Smith’s predecessor, James Harris, six years despite totally setting this franchise back with repeated first-round draft busts.” I agree. A housecleaning should not include Smith, and he should be hiring the next head coach.
Javon Ringer finds himself a larger part of the Titans’ offense than he or anyone else would have envisioned at the start of the year, writes John Glennon of The Tennessean. Ringer is averaging more yards per run and reception than Chris Johnson, carried the ball a career-best 14 times last week against the Colts, and was on the field for the last three drives of the game. If he’s running better, he needs to play more, I believe. I’d make him, minimally, the third-down back.
Marshall Faulk knows what hitting a wall looks like and feels like, and tells Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean that Chris Johnson has not hit a wall. But Falk has serious questions about CJ: “Right now, he looks like a guy who doesn’t have a good grasp of what they are trying to accomplish in the running game. He is running like a guy who is not certain about how teams are attacking him.”