Category Archives: Indianapolis Colts

Richardson: They gave up on me

Trent Richardson did the conference call with the Jacksonville media today in advance of the Colts-Jaguars game Sunday.

Almost all of the questions for Richardson were about last week’s trade from the Browns — and Richardson had some interesting things to say, including that he sees “people enjoying their jobs” with the Colts and that the Browns coaches had promised him more carries before the surprising trade.

Below is the transcript of the call distributed by the Colts, picking up three questions in.

How different is the atmosphere? Cleveland where they’re rebuilding and Indy is coming off a playoff berth – can you tell in the locker room?

“Yeah and the atmosphere here with the players is way different. It’s much cooler, much family vibe, people actually come to work and are just ready to work and have fun. People are enjoying their jobs. I don’t think it’s one guy. I can look to my left and to my right and say that this guy is not trying as hard or he’s not giving it all to him because these guys will get onto you about that and make sure you’re working.”

Were some guys in Cleveland not giving their all?

“I can’t say that they weren’t giving their all but there were times that it was a Wednesday or it’s a Monday or something like that. Sometimes you have a mindset saying you don’t want to go to work today or something like that. I’m not saying these guys don’t get a day off but here you can just hear the different vibe with the family and the brotherly love here.”

How has the transition been for you personally? Did you have a house in Cleveland?

“Yeah, I had a house in Cleveland. It’s tough. I’ve got a family and a house in Cleveland so I’ve got to put my house on the market and I’ve got a find somewhere to stay here even if I’m just going to lease for a year.  With the process of moving and stuff like that and the kids and their school was the biggest concern to me because anywhere I go I know I can play football. It doesn’t matter. It’s a process with the kids. I’ve got a first and kindergartener and I’ve got a son that’s going to be a year next week. With saying that I’m not there and we’re planning a birthday party for him for the big “one” and it’s difficult trying to see them at the same time. For the first two games that I have here are two away games. I actually had a (luxury) box in Cleveland too so getting all of that stuff cancelled out for the rest of the year and I can’t get a box here because they’re all sold out. It’s been difficult.”

Were you disappointed with the way you found out that you had been traded? That’s weird having a friend call you?

“Yeah it was weird. I was very surprised and disappointed. At first it felt like they just really gave up on me. I thought I was doing all I could to be a Cleveland Brown and I get traded. I heard that and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ One of my friends called and I was like I’m not getting traded, what are you talking about? Then when I turned up the radio it was breaking news that ‘Trent Richardson has been traded to the Colts.’ I’m just leaving a complex and just got done ice bath and stuff like that and trying to take care of my body and getting ready for the next week. Later that night I was flying to Indy to do my physical the next morning and get ready to be a on the practice field.”

You never saw it coming in Cleveland?

“No, none of that. I was pretty good people there with everybody and everybody was always turned to me when it was coming to games on the line or needed advice on certain stuff. I thought I had built up enough chemistry with the players that we had enough respect for each other that they could come to me and say anything. I was on a leadership group, a captain group, whatever they called it. The coaches and I were good and they were telling me that we are going to get it done and we will get you the ball more. I was just telling the coaches it didn’t matter, let’s just win and get that win first. It doesn’t matter about the carries. I just want to win, that was the big issue and the big point of emphasis I tried to make every week.”

Do you feel like you went to a place that’s closer to winning?

“Oh yeah. It’s funny because the rebuilding year was last year and we still have a young group. We have our vets and stuff too. Our vets lead like no other leaders. They do a tremendous job with it but here you’ve got Luck and me and then you’ve got guys like Dwayne and you have our other tight end. We’ve got young guys and a young coach here. People don’t realize how much Indy has been a Pro Bowl system with the backfield when you’ve got Marshall Faulk coming from the same system, the same program, you’ve got Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, so Peyton Manning always had a good running back.”

I know going to the Colts worked out well but it hurt your pride that a year later Cleveland doesn’t want you?

“I look at it as this, as far as me having a chip on my shoulder and saying with that I kind of felt like they gave up on me. They hurt my pride because I know I can play football and that’s always been my dream. I’m going to keep my head up high and put that behind me. Now, they asked me if I would ever go back to Cleveland? That’s tough to come about but I figured on an up and coming basis that I would be there longer and I would have been there longer. It played like it played and it’s probably the best move ever for me. I don’t know about on their end. It might be, but on our end I think it’s one of the best moves ever that they would make for me.”

Because you went to a winning team?

“Yeah, a winning team with a winning coach. Ahmad Bradshaw took a big load off of me. Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, the offensive line, it’s a big load being taken off of me. When you don’t have to play behind you can really get the touches that you really want to to fill out the game. We’ve got a two headed monster like me and Ahmad. It’s crazy. Ahmad had been blessed to be with a team like he was at the Giants with a two headed monster when him and Brandon Jacobs were running the ball.”

Do you feel you have anything to prove because the casual fans across the country wonder why Cleveland would trade you a year later? Is there a problem?

“I think I’ve got a lot to prove because I never want to have that taste in my mouth again. No matter if it’s a good one or a bad one I want to be committed to a team and want the team to be committed to me. On that end I think I’ve got a lot to prove because I was the third pick of the draft, it was a year ago and being a player that I was last year playing with broken ribs and two knee surgeries, so I thought that the harder I went out there they would have stuck by me a little bit longer. I never caused any problems. It’s a business and at the same time with that business trip they just had, I’ve just got to put that behind me and say this never happen again, nothing that I don’t know about.”

It sounds like they were committed to you then this happens.

“I don’t think Norv Turner had anything to do with that. And Chilly probably had nothing to do with that either. A lot of stuff can come from up top and you don’t know why they do stuff. When that stuff happens it just happens. One thing Coach Saban always taught me when I was in Alabama he said, ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s a business.’”

Now you want to be a long term member of the Colts?

“Oh yeah, most definitely. This place here is where I think I want to be home as far as playing in my NFL career. I don’t want to be on another squad, I want to be here for the long run.”

Any particular goals, like leading the league in rushing, Pro Bowl?

“That’s down the line. That stuff is a goal every year. It’s going to come, I know it’s going to come. When it comes it’s going to come big and saying with that it’s a lot of team goals I still have for this team here. A lot of personal goals and at the end of the year I’m going to look at my tablet and see that I reach most of it, and I set my expectations high so if I reach just most of it or at least half of it I’m going to have a pretty successful year.”

How old are your kids?

“Seven, five and one next week.”

Two girls and a boy?

“Yeah.”

They’re still in Cleveland?

“Yeah, they’re still in Cleveland.”

They must have been shocked too?

“Yeah, it’s kind of hard to explain but I think my kids have been taking it well. They don’t know what’s really going on and they ask why. It’s hard to tell them.  I can’t explain it to them because half of it and most of it I don’t really know. I just said Daddy got traded and we’ve got to pick up and move unless you want to stay here in Cleveland.”

How fast will you find a place and get them to Indy?

“We have been fine and we have been looking the last two days and it’s been coming along. I’ve been looking for some places. We should be wrapped up by next week or the week after that.”

You’ve already looked at houses?

“Yeah. I’m not wasting any time. I want to be here and I want my kids to be settled in so I can be feeling at home.”

You hope to make lemonade out of a lemon of a situation then?

“Oh yeah. Freshly squeezed.”

Richardson scores, Colts win his debut

Trent Richardson’s wild week ended with his new team going across the country and scoring an upset.

Four days after being traded by the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts, Richardson scored his first touchdown of the season and finished with 13 carries for 35 yards as the Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers.

The Colts acquired him and played him on short notice because they needed him, so after practicing with the Browns Wednesday he had essentially two days to get caught up on the Colts playbook so that he could feel comfortable enough to play a role and the team could feel comfortable that he would be able to contribute.

“At first, everything was going fast, but the game did slow down,” Richardson told reporters after the game. “I hit the playbook real hard and got to studying. I knew the game was going to come to me and I just had to let the game come to me. Also Andrew Luck is a genius and Ahmad Bradshaw helped me out. All the guys on the offense helped me out and they were encouraging. They want to be great and I know why I am here. I am here for the long run and I am not going anywhere. We are going to be a great team.”

Asked how he liked playing with Luck, Richardson said: ” I love playing with Luck out there. He is a good person, a genius, and a rocket scientist out there. Playing beside him you must know your stuff.”

So, as all these quarterback-needy teams go through their seasons while evaluating the game’s most important position for the future, they have some criteria.

Good people. Geniuses. Rocket scientists.

Richardson scored, untouched, on his first carry as a Colt from one yard out. His arrival also sparked Bradshaw, who wasn’t really the incumbent because he’s new to the Colts and was limited by injury throughout training camp and the preseason.

Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards and a touchdown and was essentially the closer as the Colts pulled away during the second half. If both stay healthy going forward the Colts could have a potent running game. Obviously the Colts think Richardson can be a much more productive runner than he was with the Browns, and plenty of people will be watching over time to see if he will.

Luck, who isn’t really a rocket scientist but is a pretty gifted young quarterback, is counting on Richardson to get comfortable with his surroundings and make more plays as the season goes along.

“I thought (Richardson) did phenomenal,” Luck said. “I can’t imagine practicing Wednesday in one city and then you get on a flight and you are practicing Thursday in another city. I think we all know he is a football player. No stage is too big for him and we hardly ever saw his eyes get big or wide like ‘Oh my gosh what do I do?’. (He) definitely has the trust and respect of all our guys because of that. To him and Bradshaw and Donald Brown, they have worked together so well I think Donald and (running backs) coach (David) Walker do such a good job of bringing him up to speed that he was able to contribute and get a touchdown. How cool was that?”

The beauty of football – and weekend predictions

Let’s take a minute to enjoy this beautiful weather, the start of basketball season and what’s left of this beautiful football season (Browns and Bengals not included in discussion of such beauty).

Football is so beautiful that Indiana and Duke remain alive to play in BCS bowl games. That is not a misprint.

Football can create beautiful stories out of terrible circumstances. The Indianapolis Colts are 6-3, their head coach, Chuck Pagano, is now in remission and more than 20 Colts players have shaved their heads in a show of support for Pagano and his fight against leukemia.

The start of college basketball means the annual airing of the Jimmy V speech. I’ll watch it (as I always do) like it’s the first time I’ve seen it. I’ll cry (as I always do), too.

The Colts, Jaguars and Browns had the lowest season win totals posted by The Guys Who Know Stuff in Las Vegas prior to the NFL season. That’s more proof that two out of every three times, Those Guys are right.

While I’m doling out and dealing in life lessons, a reminder that cheaters never prosper. Remember when Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders faked that injury in the Bengals game a couple Sunday nights ago? The NFL came down on it hard, fining the Steelers $35,000 and Sanders $15,000.

The Steelers are the only team still on the Browns’ schedule that has a winning record. A blessing and a curse and, well, we’ve seen those movies before.

Football is so beautiful that Kent State, a program that hasn’t won in ages and hasn’t been to a bowl game in 40 years, sits at 8-1 entering tomorrow’s game at Miami University in beautiful Oxford, Ohio. Football is so beautiful that Miami is capable of winning that game if Kent isn’t careful.

Football is so beautiful that back in Kent tomorrow night, Massillon and Canton McKinley play for the second time in two weeks in the second round of the OHSAA playoffs. With Ohio State off this weekend and this kind of weather, I’d advise checking this incredible rivalry game out if at all possible.

If you’ve never been to a Massillon-McKinley game, the football is always worth the price of admission. The people watching is worth triple.

I have a Massillon story I haven’t shared. It goes back to August, when I stopped to see a Massillon practice on my training camp tour. I was impressed by Massillon’s talent, and the way a bunch of high school kids ran a no-huddle offense with the ball rarely hitting the ground. But something I saw at the end of practice left me thinking this really could be a special season in one of those most special football towns we have.

Practice closed that day with what the coaches called the snake drill. The players grimaced, and I soon understood why. They started in one corner of the end zone, at the pylon, and ran “up” the goal line, turned, and then ran back “down” the 5-yard line. They went up at the 10, down at the 15. All the way down the field, all the way to the opposite goal line.

That’s a lot of running.

The linemen went first, with the idea that at least most of the skill players would start 90 seconds or so behind and eventually catch them. There was one linemen in particular who was really struggling. He was overweight, and this drill wasn’t easy on anybody.

Twice, I saw different coaches intercept this particular player and move him up three or four steps on the snake. Still, he was getting passed. And he was trying like crazy to keep up.

By the time he reached the other 10-yard line, everyone else was done. And gasping for air. And waiting. But it’s what I saw then that told me more than any no-huddle offense or snake drill could tell me about any team, on any level.

Standing in the end zone and encouraging this player to finish strong were three or four of the team leaders. They yelled his name and told him to keep pushing and when he did, they high-fived him and celebrated like he’d just scored a touchdown. It was 85 degrees that day, and I had chills.

It’s the little things that make this game so beautiful.

And, finally, my weekend predictions. Check that yearly ATS record. I’m some sort of genius.

Giants (-4) 34, Bengals 24

Steelers (-12) 31, Chiefs 17

Kent State (-6) 28, Miami 27

Penn State 27, Nebraska (-8) 24

Akron (-18) 38, UMass 17

LAST WEEK: 5-0 straight up, 3-2 ATS

SEASON TOTAL: 35-15 straight up, 28-20-2 ATS

Chuck Pagano addresses the Colts…and it gets dusty

I’m a little biased because I know Chuck a little bit from our time working at the Browns, but…

This is just powerful. It’s Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who’s away from the team while being treated for leukemia, addressing the team after another improbable win Sunday.

Watch the video here. If I was a little more technologically savvy, I might be able to embed it.

You don’t even need to like football to know Chuck’s story to hear his words and come away rooting for him to dance those two dances. You also come away thinking he will.

First and 10: The rest of the story

First and 10 started here this week. Following is … scary music cue … the rest of the story:

11) Reggie Hodges was quick and pointed when asked about his punt to the 21-yard-line in the fourth quarter. Hodges said he was told to kick the ball out of bounds, and he did. Monday, coach Pat Shurmur said he did indeed order an out-of-bounds kick. “I instructed him to kick the ball out of bounds,” Shurmur said. “I did not want a return to affect the game.” What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, the Browns were at the Colts 41. The angle out of bounds is limited by the shorter distance, which probably contributed to the kick going out at the 21. Kicking the ball high and deep would force the Colts to take a chance on letting it bounce, but doing that would surely mean it would be downed deep in Indianapolis territory because the Browns should be able to cover a short kick. The Colts’ only other real option: A fair catch. But even then, it’s probably caught deep in their territory. Assuming the Browns stop the Colts (which they did), that 10 yards in field position could mean the difference between an easy punt and a difficult one backed up to their own end zone. A small thing? Perhaps. But in any game small things can become big.

12) Another point on the Browns defense: The general rule about a rookie quarterback is to blitz him. Confuse him. The Browns didn’t. Oddly. Because on paper the common knowledge is that rookies can be rattled. The Browns sat back, and let Andrew Luck complete drives of 7:31, 6:20 and 8:34. Go figure.

13) Of course, maybe the Browns figured it would be impossible to rattle the son of a man who attended St. Ignatius. Which is wise.

14) D’Qwell Jackson said the Browns true character would be revealed by how they played against the Colts following the win over Cincinnati. Well, they played poorly, and lost. Shurmur’s comment? “I think this is an isolated, ‘We lost the game.’ I don’t think it talks about any trends.”

What the Colts might have over the Browns

What do the Colts have that the Browns lack?

I mean … Indianapolis played three defensive linemen Sunday who had a grand total of 11 practices. One guy signed this week, the other two last week. Injury forced them on the field.

And they played well, making the Browns running game look poor. And Vick Ballard came out of nowhere to run for 84 yards on 20 carries, as the Colts gained 148 yards rushing.

On paper the Browns are a better team.

On the field it didn’t happen.

Why?

Here are two contributing factors:

1) Confidence — The Colts have it, for whatever reason. The main reason: They’ve won some games. Won three in fact. Beat Minnesota and Green Bay and, now, the Browns. Winning brings confidence. Ballard can gain 84 yards after gaining 67 the five games prior. Luck can start with a touchdown drive that takes half the first quarter. At a certain point Sunday the Colts played some bad football. In fact, half the third and all the fourth quarter the Colts looked like rookies. But they got the gift of a dropped touchdown and rode that to a win. And while Brandon Weeden is 1-6, Andrew Luck is 3-3.

2) Reggie Wayne — Not because Wayne is a standout player at this point in his career, but because he’s a veteran who knows how to win, and how to practice, and how to work, and he shows his teammates how to work — and win. Wayne is a great receiver, but the Colts love him for his blocking. They don’t run for 148 without Wayne blocking the way he did. The Browns have veterans, but none of them have produced for the Browns the way Wayne has for his. And they don’t have the weight Wayne brings. The Browns might have signed a veteran player, but because he did most of his work elsewhere he wouldn’t have the same voice Wayne has. Wayne brings something the Browns lack. The Browns are developing their guys, but it will take time. And sometimes that time is painful.

What this does not explain, though, is why the Browns started so poorly coming off a win. They didn’t seem into the game, at least defensively, and didn’t play like they believed they could win.

That’s disappointing, but not untypical of this team over the years.

When it finally wins a game it starts believing it arrived, when in reality it’s light years from accomplishing anything. That feeling is not generated by the coach, or coaches. It’s generated by the players, the city, by an attitude that celebrates a win and by excitement disproportionate to one win. A week ago today, folks were actually pointing out that the Browns could be in the playoff hunt — after one win.

The excitement is understandable, given how few wins there are and how infrequently they arrive.

It just doesn’t help build an overall winning attitude to have these kind of spikes.

Thus ends this week’s psychological analysis.

The television cameras find Jimmy Haslam

Jimmy Haslam clearly is an emotional guy who wants badly to win.

That research conclusion is based on one 10-second tape of Haslam watching Sunday’s loss to the Colts. The tape followed one of the more emotional plays of the game, when Josh Gordon dropped an easy touchdown pass that could have been a game-winner.

After a timeout, when the Browns decided to punt on fourth-and-1 from the 41, the camera again caught Haslam. And either he was doing the slow burn, or something he ate at halftime didn’t agree with him.

Because he was not at all happy.

At least he didn’t look happy.

Did he want to be on camera on a national network reacting to follies on the field in his first game as owner? Doubtful, but who knows. Maybe he thought he wouldn’t be, maybe he didn’t care. Maybe he will not appreciate the networks showing his reaction.

Hard to say, because Haslam has said he will be transparent and out front.

In this case he was.

Josh Gordon dropped the ball and Haslam got up, walked around, looked obviously miffed and waved his hand as if he wanted to smack something.

Pat Shurmur punted, and the owner who promised he was here to support and help his coach looked like someone cut a little V in his windshield wiper.

Some people might call this a good thing, because it showed emotion and accountability, and it showed the owner shares the same feelings, drive and emotions as the fans.

And because it’s been absent from the Browns for years.

Some might say it embarrassed his players and coach, who were doing their best.

Folks on the internet sure had a lot of fun with the screen shots of Haslam doing the slow burn. Those pictures were all over the place. And many had unkind and comical comments about the way the Browns owner acted.

It’s tough to say the last NFL owner who was that openly emotional, negatively emotional, about a play. Or a coach’s call.

Jerry Jones? It’s been a while.

Anyone else? Art Modell? Wasn’t he ridiculed for doing that kind of thing? Owners show positive emotion, because they’re celebrating a win. But to do something that might be interpreted as showing up a player or a coach? That’s tough.

Haslam cares. Clearly. Those who know him say Cleveland was very fortunate to have him wind up owning the team. The feeling around the league about him is that the Browns got a good man who will do a good job to bring a good team to the city.

But Haslam already learned that one little throwaway line can cause a furor when he mentioned he was open to anything when the notion of building a roof on the stadium was mentioned to him.

That caused a firestorm of speculation.

These photos and videos of his reaction to his team’s misplays made it on NFL.com before the night ended.

Some will laugh, others will love it. and others will appreciate it.

But my guess is when Haslam sees the images and learns everything he does is now magnified, he’ll tone it down a bit and keep a little tighter rein on his actions.

Dissecting a Browns play that could have been

You hate to kill a guy over one drop when he’s been contributing to the team, but in Sunday’s loss to the Colts one drop loomed large.

Sort of like Mt. Rainier is a little hill.

The last three games, Josh Gordon has caught four touchdowns — of 62, 20, 71 and 33 yards. The 33-yard TD against the Colts was a beauty, a laser from Brandon Weeden. Perfectly thrown, perfectly caught.

But the drop …

Well that was a gut-wrencher.

A possible game-winner, dropped to the turf for no reason other than Gordon dropped it.

The pass was right in his hands, and he didn’t catch it.

What makes it worse are the circumstances behind the play. The Browns saved this particular call for this situation. They got the coverage they wanted, the read they wanted and the defensive action they wanted. Weeden threw it perfectly. And Gordon dropped it.

As Weeden said, rarely does a play actually work out the way it’s drawn up on a board or in practice.

This one did.

Gordon is supposed to beat the corner, then if the safety goes to the outside to cover the short route, Weeden is supposed to look that way (to Jordan Cameron), then throw to Gordon.

It happened just the way the Browns wanted it to.

“As a quarterback you hope you draw them up just like they’re going to happen,” Weeden said. “That one did.”

Gordon beat the corner, Jerraud Powers. The safety went outside. Weeden looked that way — convincing the Colts that’s where the throw was going. Then he waited until the last possible second before throwing deep down the middle to Gordon, who was steps (note the plural) ahead of Powers.

“I saw the safety come down, jumped across there,” Weeden said. “That’s where we wanted him. If he comes across there I take a shot over the top.”

Gordon knew the ball was coming to him. This was a play designed for a home run.

“After I beat him off the line of scrimmage, yeah, it was my play,” he said.
Weeden claimed he never saw the result.

“(Pat) Angerer hit me right in the chin, and I never saw it,” Weeden said, adding: “When it left my hand it felt like I threw a good ball. I happened to look up and heard the crowd. I thought we scored. It got kind of quiet, then it got loud.”

Except the loud was because the ball fell out of Gordon’s hands.

“Just dropped it,” Gordon said.

In the verbage, Gordon “manned up.” He offered no excuse.

“No sun, no issue,” he said. “Just didn’t make the play.”

He even said the loss could be blamed on him.

Weeden was having none of it. He said the play was over and it was time for the next one.

But that play and the Greg Little non-catch in Baltimore have had a huge effect on the Browns season — and Weeden’s numbers. Both might have changed losses to wins, both could have boosted Weeden’s numbers and confidence. There isn’t much more Weeden could have done on either, but the receivers did not come through — even though they are showing ability and growth.

“I got plenty enough to worry about on my own,” Weeden said.

His reaction on the field, though, said something different. It looked like he had a good view of the play, laying on the ground, head raised. And when Gordon dropped the pass Weeden put his head on the top of his helmet and lay back on the ground.

That play left that kind of feeling for a lot of people.