AFC South: Warren Moon


Jack Pardee left a big imprint on Houston and on the franchise that went on to become the Tennessee Titans.

Pardee, who coached the run-and-shoot Houston Oilers, passed away Monday.

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon had high praise for his old coach in a conversation with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

“Coach Pardee was a genuine Texas legend,” Moon said. “He was successful on so many levels. He had such appreciation and respect for the game.

"'How many Texans do what he did?' He starred in high school (Christoval), played for Bear Bryant (Texas A&M), survived Junction and became an All-American. After his playing career (Rams and Redskins) ended, he coached three teams in Texas. That’s about as Texas as they come.”

The Oilers' run-and-shoot had its limitations. But when you see four wide receivers, spread fields and even read options you’re seeing a lot of run and shoot principles at work.

Pardee’s Oilers teams never broke through to a Super Bowl, but they sure were fun to watch.
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans

The Houston Chronicle columnists take opposing viewpoints on the Texans’ future. Randy Harvey says they have too many question marks to be a true contender. Jerome Solomon says it’s too soon to write the Texans off.

For all those bashing Matt Schaub, John McClain of the Chronicle points out that Schaub has taken the Texans as far in the playoffs as Warren Moon ever took the Oilers.

Reviewing the highs and lows of the Texans’ season with Tania Ganguli of the Chronicle.

The Texans were disappointed but hopeful as they cleaned out their lockers, says Sara Eckert of CSN Houston.

Should they stay or should they go? Battle Red Blog looks and the Texans heading towards free agency.

Indianapolis Colts

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is a finalist for the Bears head coaching job, says Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

To which I say: Arians has said he expects his situation to be settled by the end of the week. Chuck Pagano would have giant shoes to fill if Arians gets a head job. But remember, Andrew Luck did just fine at Stanford when Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL and the quarterback had to adjust to different coaching with the Cardinal.

Tight end Dwayne Allen transitioned from college to the NFL as well as any rookie in Colts history, says Craig Kelley of the team’s web site.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mel Tucker interviewed Monday and Jay Gruden and Brian Schottenheimer are expected to meet with David Caldwell about the Jaguars open head coaching position today, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

“Tony Khan is the Jaguars' VP of football technology & analytics, and his father owns the team,” writes Chet Fussman of the T-U. “Presumably, a failed fourth-down risk, or the release of a player whose production isn't what it seems, will mean answering to the media, and not anybody else.”

John Oehser of Jaguars.com doesn’t think Maurice Jones-Drew will get traded because the value of an aging back coming off an injury won’t merit it.

Tight end coach Bobby Johnson went to Detroit, says O’Halloran.

Charley Casserly talked with Gene Frenette of the T-U about the Jaguars' coaching search.

Tennessee Titans

A look at Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains from John Glennon of The Tennessean. It appears Loggains, promoted to the post with five games left in the 2012 season, will retain the position going forward.

To which I say: Loggains can do a ton to revamp and revise the offense to suit it to Jake Locker and the personnel the Titans have.

Kenny Britt is still wanted for questioning by New Jersey police who believe he knows about a stabbing and a fired gunshot, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. The NFL will look into what's unfolded.

To which I say: Britt needs to step forward and say what he knows. They aren’t going to lose interest in him the more time passes, and all he is doing is drawing increased attention.

Who calls the protections, and why?

December, 20, 2012
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Andrew LuckKim Klement/US PresswireRookie Andrew Luck of the Colts is among the QBs asked to call the bulk of his team's protections.

A young quarterback breaks the huddle and steps to the line. There is much to assess staring at him from across the line of scrimmage.

What’s the coverage? Is it better to run or pass against it? Is that safety really coming at me or is he disguising before backing off to be part of a Cover 2? I need to send that receiver in motion. How would the cornerback across from him react to that? Who’s hot here if someone comes free at me?

On top of all of that, in some systems, the quarterback is also setting the protections.

Is asking him to manage the blocking scheme putting too much on his plate?

Some teams think so, leaving those decisions mostly to the center and giving the quarterback power to make a simple switch. Other teams want their quarterback to control everything, and ask him to assess what needs to happen up front, not just downfield.

“Personally, I think it ties the quarterback into everything,” said Colts offensive coordinator and interim coach Bruce Arians, who asks rookie Andrew Luck to call protections most of the time. “I don’t think the center can see what the quarterback can see. When the center depends on the [middle linebacker] because of safety locations, he gets fooled too many times.

“The quarterback can see everyone’s body language and everything else. That’s his job. He’s got to know who the 'Mike' is, where the safeties are for him to know his hots and sights. There are a lot of offenses that the center does it because the quarterback doesn’t throw hots or sights, they don’t have them in their offense. I’m not one of those people.”

In Jacksonville, meanwhile, the Jaguars rely heavily on 13-year veteran center Brad Meester.

“It starts with the center, but everybody’s had the ability to get us in the right protection to obviously make us more sound,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “I think it’s a very user-friendly offense. I think because of players having to come in and learn the system yearly, you’ve got to be careful just how much you put on their plate. But I think our guys can handle it pretty well."

In Tennessee, Jake Locker doesn’t have the responsibility Luck does in the Colts' offense.

The linemen sort out the protections, with the center serving as the key communication person. Veteran backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said there is typically one guy whose interpretation serves as the default if there is any confusion. Once left guard Steve Hutchinson became comfortable in his new team’s system and before a knee injury knocked him out, he was that guy for Tennessee.

With Tennessee’s offensive line now stocked with backups, the lone remaining original starter, left tackle Michael Roos, surely has a louder voice.

The Titans lost Eugene Amano in the preseason and plugged Fernando Velasco in at center. When Hutchinson went down, they settled on Velasco shifting to left guard and Kevin Matthews as center. In Week 15, Matthews was lost for the remainder of the season with an ankle sprain. Third-stringer Kyle DeVan played the bulk of that game as the pivot. He could be there again Sunday in Green Bay, or the Titans could put Velasco back in the middle and play recent waiver claim Mitch Petrus at guard.

Got all that?

Whoever is doing the decision-making up front and whoever is communicating it, Locker has veto power. If he sees something he believes isn’t right for what the Titans are intending to run, he is expected to alter it.

The case for a quarterback setting protections starts with the view. Linemen in three- or four-point stances don’t see things as clearly as the quarterback, who can stand upright and scan the field before getting under center.

“They might start somewhere, we see where they start and we might say, ‘No, no, no, let’s do this’ or ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah let’s do that,'” Hasselbeck said. “Or if a team blitzes, we have different words that mean ‘same protection other side’ or whatever it is.”

The Texans and the Jaguars work in a similar fashion, where the line and quarterback work in conjunction. Both teams have veteran centers who typically get things started, Chris Myers in Houston and Meester in Jacksonville.

A couple of weeks ago when the Titans prepared for the Texans, offensive line coach Bruce Matthews made the quarterbacks aware of three especially difficult looks. If the center saw one of those, he’d take the lead and tell Locker what to check into.

At other times, the quarterback’s ability to recognize things he wasn’t advised about is very important.

“One thing that is big with me and veteran players in general is, you develop problem-solving skills,” Hasselbeck said.

On the bus or plane after the game, he might talk with a lineman or a blocking tight end who says he knew a certain play wasn’t going to work.

“The coaches don’t care if you change the play if you’re getting them out of a bad play,” Hasselbeck said. “They care if you change the play and you are getting them out of a decent or good play.

[+] EnlargeBrad Meester
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY SportsThe Jaguars rely on veteran center Brad Meester to make the majority of their protection calls.
“My advice to guys is just to scream ‘this play is not going to work’ or ‘check it.’ Something. I don’t need to know everything about why. I just need to know that someone along the line isn’t feeling good about their assignment. I can always get us into a decent play. Always.”

Some quarterbacks don’t want to be real involved in sorting out protections.

Mike Munchak was the Titans' offensive line coach while Steve McNair quarterbacked the Titans. He said McNair didn’t want to be concerned with setting protections. His safety blanket receiver, tight end Frank Wycheck, recalled McNair asking weekly what his “emergencies” would be against an opponent and making sure he had a solution in mind or was ready to freelance when he saw those.

But Hasselbeck thinks most coaches want it on the quarterback, at least to some degree. He was responsible for calling protections in Mike Holmgren’s scheme in Seattle. He likes not having to do it all when he’s playing in Tennessee.

“It’s partly 'best seat in the house,' it’s partly you’re expected to be the guy who spends the most hours at the facility watching the most amount of film,” he said. “You’re the coach on the field. You’re the guy that talks in the huddle."

Still, there are situations where he’s been told in meetings that top offensive linemen would just “feel it” when it came to certain stuff from a defense, and that the line would “just pick that up,” Hasselbeck said.

“That’s not a world I’ve ever lived in,” he said. “I’ve lived in a world where you use your cadence to try to get a tip. You move the protections. You tell the running backs exactly where to block. And if you have to throw hot, you have to throw hot. And that’s a hard way to live on the road or against certain guys.”

Munchak said the center can be fooled more easily, so the quarterback needs to be involved, but he doesn’t want Locker making constant protection decisions at the line.

A quarterback like Peyton Manning, who controls everything, can handle it. Munchak played with Warren Moon, who did the same during some of the run-and-shoot era.

“But for the most part, I don’t think a lot of quarterbacks are comfortable doing that,” Munchak said. “I don’t think they want to do it. I think it’s too much for them. And then all of a sudden they’re not making the throws and doing the things you want them to do. I think there is a place for a percentage of doing it, but not all the time.”

Some athletic quarterbacks wind up in situations where they have no real idea of where a protection might break down, but can make guys miss when they come free. Hasselbeck’s seen this year’s top three rookie quarterbacks -- Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson -- as well as Ben Roethlisberger do it this season.

When Hasselbeck was a backup behind Brett Favre in Green Bay, he saw it to an extreme.

“He knew how to pick things up, and he was very, very good at it,” Hasselbeck said. “But sometimes he just wouldn’t care. He was like, ‘Ah, I can get it off.’ And he’d get it off and take a shot in the chin. There is a price to be paid sometimes when you do it.

“I would lean on coaching it up.”

The Titans clearly hope Locker comes to buy himself time in the fashion that Roethlisberger, Luck, RG III and Wilson can and do.

Myers is a key leader for the Texans, and he carries a lot of responsibility for calling protections. He likes working with a veteran quarterback, in Matt Schaub, who participates in the process, and he likes having other offensive linemen who are capable of making calls or adjustments, too.

While Myers welcomes the play here and there when he doesn’t have to figure out the equation and solve it before the snap, he’s always ready and willing to do so.

“We have the quarterback do it, have a tackle do it sometimes when we have to fan out in certain play-actions,” Myers said. “So the responsibility isn’t solely on one guy, and I think that’s a great thing. We have the ability and the leadership and the people who have played long enough, we’re able to put it on everyone’s shoulders as opposed to just one guy.”
Reading the coverage …

A preview of the crucial Colts-Texans matchup from Nate Dunlevy of Bleacher Report. He also tells you who to root for to help your team.

Houston Texans

Like many before him, Gary Kubiak sees Ben Roethlisberger in Andrew Luck, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

Tight end Garrett Graham is ready to return to action, says Dale Robertson of the Chronicle.

Where things stand going into Week 15 for the Texans, from Dunlevy.

Back when it was posting dominating victories, the Texans harassed quarterbacks and ran well. The Colts give up pressure and don’t defend the run real well, says Battle Red Blog.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are nowhere near as good as their record, writes Bill Barnwell of Grantland.

To which I say: Of course they’re not. And I understand all the math he uses to show us what they really are beneath that 9-4 exterior. But the fact is they have a 9-4 exterior. Barnwell says vote for Arians for coach of the year if you would vote for him if they were 6-7. But they are not 6-7. As for the weak schedule -- should they apologize? They play who they play, and they’ve won games, close or not. I agree they are an early out in the playoffs. That won’t be the measure of this team’s success.

Arians should be coach of the year, says Bob Kravitz of the Star. I agree. I’d vote Chuck Pagano/Arians if I had a vote.

Arians has rolled to the Colts’ rescue, says Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.

Jerraud Power’s future with the Colts is in doubt, says Mike Chappell.

Some fundamental teaching points from Tony Dungy still seem to resonate with the Colts, says Phil Richards.

Arian Foster’s yards-per-carry average is likely down because he’s gotten the ball when the Texans have been sitting on leads, says Marcus Dugan of Colts Authority.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Montell Owens is adjusting to a new role: feature back. Ryan O’Halloran’s story from the Florida Times-Union.

Eben Britton can’t find a productive spot, says Vito Stellino.

To which I say: The Jaguars were really counting on him coming into the season. He’s one of the most interesting guys in the division. But if he’s not a bust for the Jags, he’s on the verge.

Where things stand going into Week 15, from Dunlevy.

Cecil Shorts is eyeing a 1,000-yard season, says O’Halloran.

Tennessee Titans

Warren Moon says Jake Locker needs to take fewer chances and not try to do too much, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Wyatt picks up on this, and adds some important financial detail. Mike Munchak’s salary is between $2.75 million and $3 million over the next two years but none of his assistants are under contract past 2013.

The Titans have to be better on third down, and the Jets are good at stopping people, says John Glennon of the Tennessean.

Munchak didn’t want to talk about a report that Jerry Gray interviewed for the Texas Tech job, which is now filled, says Glennon.

Jason McCourty knows where to go for help on the Jets -- to his brother, Devin, who plays against them twice a year. David Boclair’s story from the Nashville City Paper.

Dunlevy previews Jets-Titans.

 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jake Locker has been a Titans quarterback since April 28, 2011.

In 22 preseason and regular-season games since then, he’s not yet had a game plan drawn up specifically for him.

After officially naming him its starting quarterback this season today, that’s one of several reasons the franchise is very confident in him going forward.

“There are a lot of things he can do, there are a lot of phases of the game he can affect,” coach Mike Munchak said. “There are things we can do with him that we haven’t shown in the preseason. We haven’t helped him play his kind of game.”

Locker’s ability to move around and run is part of what made him an attractive draft prospect. And he’s fast, having run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash.

But the Titans are careful about how they paint him.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
Jim Brown/US Presswire"There are things we can do with him that we haven't shown in the preseason," Titans coach Mike Munchak said of newly crowned starter Jake Locker.
“It just brings a totally different element to the game, which we’ve had before, with guys like Vince (Young) and Steve (McNair), (Warren) Moon when I played,” Munchak said. “He’s a quarterback that can run. He’s not a running quarterback to me …”

“He can get out of the pocket, put the fear in the defense, that’s a nice thing to have. Does that mean that we have to move the pocket and do all these things, because he’s not capable of sitting in the pocket?" he continued. "No. We think he’s great in the pocket and we’re excited about that. The fact that he can do a lot of other things creates a lot of issues for teams that have to deal with him.”

Locker downplayed the differences we might see with him running the offense, saying there are “little nuances” but that the goal is the same no matter who’s quarterbacking -- trying to find ways to take advantage of all Tennessee’s weapons.

One of the weapons Locker spoke of, Nate Washington, sees all sorts of new, dynamic possibilities. Offense coordinator Chris Palmer has already said the Titans will feature some run-and-shoot principles utilizing more conventional personnel.

“He’s going to give us an opportunity to come out and do some different things that we haven’t shown,” said Washington, who broke through with his first 1,000-yard season with Matt Hasselbeck as the starter last year. “A little bit of everything with the spread, our heavy packages with the triple tight end. He gives us a little bit of everything and that’s going to be a positive for us.

“He does different things that Matt wasn’t able to do, of course, as far as running and being mobile. It’s a good opportunity for us to come out and show a little different diversity.”

The team was reaching a point where it was ready to rally around a guy.

“I’m excited for him,” left tackle Michael Roos said. “It’s who our guy is. Now we know. We can just get ready.”

Munchak expressed gratitude to Hasselbeck, who did wonders to smooth a difficult transition.

A first-year coach had no offseason time with players in 2011, but found a veteran quarterback able to fill a major leadership void and help spread his message of professionalism while talking of service to his teammates.

Hasselbeck couldn’t have handled losing the job more professionally.

“Matt's one of the best guys I know,” Locker said asked about their exchange after they learned the verdict Sunday night. “It wasn't awkward. It wasn't tough.”

When Hasselbeck signed a three-year deal as a free agent, the Titans told him they wanted to create stability and security at quarterback while looking to turn to Locker at whatever pace Locker dictated.

“I think his development as a quarterback in all areas has definitely been impressive,” Hasselbeck said. “… He's everything they hoped he would be and I would certainly agree. I'm a big fan of his. I think he'll do well.”

Hasselbeck a flag bearer for Munchak

September, 29, 2011
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Matt HasselbeckDon McPeak/US PresswireMatt Hasselbeck has helped lead the Titans to a 2-1 record through the teams first three games.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- No offense to Sarah Hasselbeck, but in many ways when her husband decided to join the Tennessee Titans, he signed on for a second marriage.

Matt Hasselbeck and Mike Munchak are an NFL couple.

A new starting quarterback and a new NFL head coach can make for a new vibe, a new message, a new offense and a new direction.

The two are still relative newlyweds because of the lockout, but the early days have brought plenty of bliss, to the pair as well as those rooting for it.

It’s just three games. But the small sampling of their work together suggests the Titans can contend for the AFC South title.

Munchak is effectively conveying simple messages to his team and Hasselbeck is buying into them and passing them on.

“I just feel that my job as quarterback is, I don’t really care what we do, I just need to know what the coaching staff wants to do and then I can be the flag bearer on that stuff,” Hasselbeck said. “Whatever the message is for the week, let me know, coach, and I’ll be spreading the message. Whatever you want emphasized, I’ll make sure that gets emphasized.”

Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer have done well with the clarity and scope of those messages, Hasselbeck said. They aren’t vague or general or generic. They are game specific, opponent specific or specific to something the team needs to do better. As a Hall of Fame player, Munchak wanted those straightforward messages, not convoluted riddles that needed figuring out.

[+] EnlargeMike Munchak
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesMike Munchak's relationship with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has gotten off on the right foot.
The Munchak-Hasselbeck relationship so far appears to be the sort most coaches and quarterbacks would like to have. That he’s not calling plays helps, Munchak said, as he’s sort of a buffer in the heat of the moment.

He’s seen his share of volatile coach-quarterback dealings. Warren Moon and Jack Pardee weren’t necessarily at odds, but Munchak did say their relationship wasn’t the one he wants with Hasselbeck.

“I want to have with him what I had with my linemen as an offensive line coach,” Munchak said. “A guy I can trust the way I could trust so many guys -- Kevin Mawae, Bruce Matthews, Jason Mathews -- I had so many guys I had relationships with who could spread the message on how to do things. ...

“Matt’s been around 13 years. He doesn’t need all the fluff. He needs the facts and he wants to know, ‘What exactly can I do to help? Let’s get to the point of this thing.’”

Heading into the Week 3 game against Denver, the theme was winning first down.

“I think Munch is a pretty straightforward guy and he does a good job of being to the point,” Hasselbeck said. “There is not a whole lot of gray area. As a player, that makes it easy; you go out and you know what your coach is looking for. He keeps it pretty simple. ‘Hey, I want you to win first down.’ Gotcha.”

In his first experience as a head coach, Munchak teamed up with general manager Mike Reinfeldt to plan a quarterback strategy after the team decided it was done with Vince Young. The Titans drafted Jake Locker eighth overall, but set themselves up with Hasselbeck, too, a veteran they believed could excel with top-flight pass protection, something the Titans' offensive line has offered.

If Hasselbeck tops 300 passing yards Sunday in Cleveland, it will be the first time in his career he’s done so three games in a row.

He, Palmer and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains talk of how there is no defense for the perfect throw.

Another way I’ve heard people talking about it is that Hasselbeck “throws people open.” I like that phrase. It’s something Titans quarterbacks haven’t done in recent years. It’s something he’ll have to do with players like Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins now that Kenny Britt is gone.

Hasselbeck’s consciously factored his experience with change while he was in Seattle into his approach in Tennessee, where the talk is already of a late-career renaissance.

“In the last three years, I think, I’ve had a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and I handled all three years a little differently,” he said. “One year I handled it where I was real assertive and wanted to get my way. Another year I said, ‘Hey, I’m just going to sit back.’ I’m probably handling this one differently, learning from some of my past mistakes.

“I’m not trying to impart anything from my past. I’m not trying to ask for anything I’ve done. I’m just trying to learn what they’ve done here and what they want to do here. I’ve kind of tried to come in here like I have no experience and no football knowledge at all. Because I’ve done that, my focus has been 100 percent on trying to run the stuff.”

The stuff has worked well enough so far. The new coach and the new quarterback are in lockstep. Smart messages are being well received. For now, it amounts to fresh air in Nashville.
Houston Texans

Ben Tate is the likely starter at running back in New Orleans, says John McClain.

Kevin Walter could return against the Saints, says John McClain.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are not considering any big changes, writes Mike Chappell.

Special-teams coverage units have been a giant problem so far, says Phil Richards.

Peyton Manning walked laps at practice, says Richards.

Lower your expectations, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Nate Dunlevy considers how the Colts would approach an opportunity at Andrew Luck.

According to Bill Polian, people must be must be “cold-hearted realistic” and that the “stark reality” is no one can operate the Colts' offense like Manning. Major props to Stampede Blue for listening to Polian’s show and writing up details.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Luke McCown and Blaine Gabbert are waiting for word on who will start in Carolina, says Vito Stellino.

Special teams were an issue for the Jaguars against the Jets, says Tania Ganguli.

John Oehser on Jack Del Rio’s timing with the quarterback decision.

A lot of angry readers wrote Oehser.

Tennessee Titans

Matt Hasselbeck has thrown for more yards in the first two weeks since any Oilers/Titans quarterback since Warren Moon in 1992, says Jim Wyatt.

Mike Munchak foresees a bigger role for Javon Ringer, says Wyatt.

The Titans will check out Clinton Portis today, says Wyatt.

Cortland Finnegan’s been restoring his reputation, says David Boclair.

RTC: As the deadline approaches

March, 11, 2011
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Reading the coverage ...

Andrew Brandt reviews the issues and still holds out some hope as the CBA expiration nears.

David Cornwall sorts through the battle for a billion.

Warren Moon will push Mike Munchak to take Cam Newton if he can, says Jim Wyatt.

Amobi Okoye unites players for football in Africa.
Reading the coverage …

Houston Texans

Wade Phillips is looking for position coaches, says John McClain.

Seven of 12 playoff coaches were hired after Gary Kubiak, says Richard Justice.

Indianapolis Colts

An uncertain offseason begins too soon for the Colts, says Mike Chappell.

A big kickoff return near the end killed the Colts against the Jets, says Phil Richards.

Bob Kravitz still doesn’t understand “The Timeout.”

Kravitz’s report card.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Catching up: Dirk Koetter is a candidate for the Broncos' top job, says Vito Stellino. He would be a bad loss for Jacksonville. I thought he did great work this season with a limited offense, and Jack Del Rio wouldn’t be able to lure a top replacement as he could only offer a one-year deal.

Tennessee Titans

Warren Moon is sympathetic to Vince Young, says John Glennon.

Where Young would fit, from Glennon.

Bud Adams is expecting a quick turnaround, says Jim Wyatt.
Young
Hall of Famer Warren Moon doesn’t know if Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young has any NFL quarterbacks in his sphere of influence, and Moon thinks that has contributed to the problems the Young has had.

From John Glennon’s blog:
“I’ve tried to reach out to him since he’s been with the Titans, and we’ve had some dialogue a little bit, but he’s a guy that’s really hard to get to because he’s insulated by so many other people around him, whether it’s family members, advisors, people like that. That’s not something I’m going to try to break through to.

“If he’s open to having a dialogue or a relationship, I’m more than open about doing it as well. But I’m not going to go over and beyond if that’s not something he’s receptive to. I’ll leave that up to him, but he knows I’m there all the time. I’ve made that known.”

If you work in a business where very few people have done what you do and one of them reached out to you, would you make somebody seeking you out have to complete an obstacle course to get to you?

Moon also mention’s Young’s relationship with Steve McNair. Prior to McNair's death, his influence with Young had waned.

Young’s supporters constantly make it out like people are out to get him and that it’s a media-led charge.

Here is Moon, a Hall of Famer who feels pretty good about Young and would obviously have a lot to offer him, indicating Young is “insulated” and difficult to reach. And here is former teammate Kevin Mawae saying Young doesn’t qualify as a good pro.

Tell me again: How is it all the media's fault?
Reading the coverage ...

Gil Brandt ranks Gary Brackett against Arian Foster as his top matchup of the week.

Houston Texans

Warren Moon thinks someone could set a new single-game all-time passing record soon, and John McClain wonders if it could come against the Texans.

Bernard Pollard talks about high standards. (Video.)

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts do their best to be polite with officials, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Wilson’s thorough game preview.

John Oehser sets the table for "Monday Night Football."

Do the Colts’ injuries impact Peyton Manning’s fantasy value? Matt Pitzer examines.

Joe Baker sifts through who’s for real and who’s not.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Derrick Harvey is out of the starting lineup and Jeremy Mincey is in, says Tania Ganguli.

Slowing DeMarcus Ware is a big mission, says Vito Stellino.

The idea of playing for the draft pick is not only ridiculous, it violates every principle of competitive athletics, Vic Ketchman says.

The 2008 Jaguars draft ranks among the worst ever, says Alfie Crow.

Tennessee Titans

Vince Young was back in practice, says Jim Wyatt.

Stephen Tulloch speaks highly of Philip Rivers, say Wyatt and John Glennon.

Damian Williams may not fare as well with Young playing as he has with Kerry Collins, says David Boclair.

Collins thinks Brett Favre’s streak is way bigger than Cal Ripken’s, says Bob McClellan.
Chuck in Indy writes: Your blog was about the AFC South which was created in 2002. You can`t go back before that with the Colts because they were in the AFC East prior to 2002. Why did you overlook the Titans/Oilers old records?

Paul Kuharsky: If you look at it again, you’ll find Houston teams are first and second runners-up. So how did I overlook them?

The assignment was the best team in each franchise’s history. If their history extends beyond realignment -- and they all do except Houston -- then all that was considered. You wanted best teams since realignment? Boy would that have been boring.


Bond Brady from NYC writes: You are a disgrace to the profession of journalism. The Baltimore Colts should never be included with the version in Indy when discussing greatest teams. As long as you perpetuate the lie that Johnny Unitas played for Indy your journalistic integrity is in jeopardy. The 1958 Baltimore Colts should be included under the Baltimore Ravens. You need to either take a history lesson or go back to journalism school to learn about integrity. Until you do, your writings are a disgrace to world of sports.

Paul Kuharsky: Interesting world view.

I suggest you get yourself a Colts media guide. It includes all the Baltimore Colts' history. I didn’t decide the franchise would carry its history to Indianapolis. The team and the league did, and they are allowed to make such a decision. The Irsays own the franchise. They can do with it what they want. It’s pretty simple, really.

By the way, that’s the way it’s worked for every team that’s relocated with only one exception, when the Browns turned into the Ravens and left their history in Cleveland. Warren Moon played for the Oilers who are now the Titans. It would be foolish to say he played for the Texans.

I never said Unitas played for Indy. I said he played for the Colts. That’s indisputable. The franchise is the Colts -- not Baltimore or the Ravens or even Indianapolis, but the Colts.

So I’ve not committed any sort of journalistic crime, and you really should take a breath.


Andy in Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Now, I'm not trying to belabor this point but I can't believe you think Colts have such a significant talent level over the Jaguars. I'm assuming you're just considering starters because I'd take the Jaguars TEs over the Colts. Is Dallas Clark better than Marcedes Lewis? Depends on what you're judging, as a pass catcher, yes, as a blocker no way. The fact you think the Colts LBs are better still blows me away. Gary Brackett? Really, Paul? You consider Clint Session better than Daryl Smith? The same Daryl Smith that Profootballfocus.com rated as the Number One Outside 4-3 Linebacker. As for the Colts CBs, why? Is Kelvin Hayden really better than Rashean Mathis? Is Jerraud Powers better than Derek Cox? They've got a better pass rush up front but as far as talent goes, it's a tie. Come on, Paul. I'm not saying the Jags are as talented as the Colts, but I think some positions need to be re-evaluated.

Paul Kuharsky: Dallas Clark is better at doing what the Colts ask him to do than Marcedes Lewis is at what the Jaguars ask him to do. Pretty simple.

And sight unseen, outside of OTA work, I think Brody Eldridge gives Indy a boost at the position too. Ernest Wilford’s had an excellent offseason in Jacksonville. Still, advantage Colts.

Gary Brackett is excellent, as is Clint Session. They are two guys. Daryl Smith is one. Advantage Colts. (Pro Football Focus is very interesting. But not always gospel.)

The Colts’ corners were a major part of a defense that limited big plays. As a group, the corners are better in their system than the Jaguars’ are in theirs.

I don’t mean to beat up on the Jaguars, who are moving in a pretty good direction. But the talent gap is significant and I am not compelled to offer any changes to my scorecard.

Best Texans Team Ever: 2009

June, 29, 2010
6/29/10
11:45
AM ET
Notable Players: QB Matt Schaub. WR Andre Johnson, DE Mario Williams, TE Owen Daniels, MLB DeMeco Ryans, LB Brian Cushing, SS Bernard Pollard

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMatt Schaub passed for 4,770 yards in 2009, the sixth-most in NFL history.
Analysis: Let’s be frank. This will be the lone best team ever in our series of 32 that didn’t advance to the playoffs. These Texans are the best because they posted the only winning record in franchise history.

They did it despite some serious faults: a terrible run defense at the outset, a terrible run game and too many missed field goals late in close games.

Schaub posted the sixth-highest passing yardage season in league history. His 4,770 yards exceeded the best years for Peyton Manning or Warren Moon. Schaub accomplished this despite losing his second-best pass-catcher, tight end Owen Daniels, to a knee injury at the season’s midpoint.

The defense started poorly, but once in-season addition Pollard settled in, things settled down. Outside linebacker Cushing was fantastic from the start and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Schaub showed just how valuable he can be, but these Texans often relied on his passing to win or stay in games. A win at struggling Tennessee early was the lone division victory. A 1-5 overall division record set up an impossible route to the postseason.

The Texans are hopeful the 2010 edition will replace this team as a franchise-best. A more balanced club and a playoff berth would accomplish that.

Most impressive win: I’m really struggling to pick one here, but I'll go with 34-31 in Nashville over the Titans in Week 2. Schaub threw four touchdowns to offset a huge day for Titans running back Chris Johnson.

Research room: The 2009 Texans were only the second AFC South team to finish with a winning record and not make the playoffs. (Jacksonville was 9-7 in 2004.)

Honorable mention:

2008: Andre Johnson was outstanding and running back Steve Slaton was a revelation with 1,282 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. But the 2008 Texans were outscored by 28 points. An 0-4 start killed them and a 5-1 finish was only enough for 8-8 overall.
Notable players: LG Bruce Matthews, QB Steve McNair, RB Eddie George, DE Jevon Kearse, CB Samari Rolle, WR Derrick Mason, S Blaine Bishop, TE Frank Wycheck

Eddie George
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesEddie George rushed for 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2000. He also caught 50 passes for 453 yards and two scores.
Analysis: While the Titans were transformed by reaching the franchise’s first Super Bowl during an improbable run in 1999, most insiders -- and this observer -- believe the follow-up team was better.

Fred Miller wasn’t as good as Jon Runyan at right tackle, but Randall Godfrey was a significant upgrade over Barron Wortham at middle linebacker. The defense allowed 133 fewer regular-season points than the year before. The addition of offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger also qualified as an improvement. These Titans weren’t discovering they were good, they knew they were good, rolling to a 13-3 season.

An opening-night loss at Buffalo was a grudge match over the Music City Miracle, but Tennessee responded with an eight-game winning streak. The Titans won in a variety of ways. They beat the Giants 28-14 and the Steelers 9-7, adapting to what a certain Sunday may have demanded.

They also lost close games to Baltimore and at Jacksonville. The total margin of their three losses was seven points.

With the NFL’s best record and as the No. 1 seed, the Titans felt primed to return to the Super Bowl and win it. But they were undone by the rival Ravens, who upset the Titans in Nashville with big defensive and special-teams performances that sparked a run to a championship. Jeff Fisher says the 2000 Titans are the best team he’s coached, which made the loss to the Ravens all the harder to swallow.

Most impressive win: The Giants were ranked as the NFC’s best team in 2000, and the Titans beat them by two touchdowns on Oct. 1.

Research room: While it was the Ravens’ year, and they are regarded as an all-time defense, it was the Titans who finished the year as the NFL’s No. 1-rated defense.

Honorable mentions:

1993: This edition of the Houston Oilers, which had two Hall of Fame offensive linemen in Mike Munchak and Matthews and a Hall of Fame quarterback in Warren Moon, rattled off 11 consecutive wins to conclude the regular season and finished 12-4. But they lost their first playoff game to Kansas City.

1961: The Houston Oilers were 10-3-1 and won their second AFL championship in a row with 13 players who were in the AFL All-Star Game.

1999: The Music City Miracle came to define a gritty, prepared, never-say-die team. They won their first playoff game thanks to the last-second trick play and came a yard short of forcing overtime on the final play of the franchise’s lone Super Bowl appearance.
Sheldon Spencer, an NFL editor at ESPN.com HQ, has been digging through draft history for the past several weeks to assemble round-by-round all-star teams.

Here’s a description of the process -- AFL drafts aren’t a piece of this until the NFL and AFL merged drafts in 1967. We’re talking about players who performed well with the franchise who drafted them.

The AFC South’s had a lot fewer picks than any other division in the NFL since the Jaguars and Texans have not been operating for long and the Titans only date back to that 1967 draft. The Colts have candidates dating back to 1953. Indianapolis and Tennessee are sure to have multiple entries in the series that take us back to Baltimore and Houston.

Here’s the seventh-round and beyond team.

The Colts' Raymond Berry is the division’s lone representative.

Three others earned mentions in the also considered category: Oilers quarterback Warren Moon, Colts defensive tackle Fred Miller, Oilers safety Ken Houston. Also of note in the also considered category is Earnest Byner, now running backs coach in Jacksonville.

Here’s the sixth-round all-star club.

Oilers linebacker Al Smith, and Colts safety Antoine Bethea make the team.

Colts linebacker Cato June was considered, as were a couple of Bos from the Oilers: Bo Orlando and Bo Scaife.

Stay tuned for more division-specific details as other teams are unveiled. On Wednesday, we get the fifth and fourth rounds, Thursday the third and second and Friday the first.

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