In our last article, we highlighted some work done by Football Outsiders that showed us that our favorite football team can't tackle. Naturally, this pissed yours truly off not because FO's info was 'wrong,' but because the Colts have spent a boatloads of money and used several high draft picks to make this defense good only to see embarrassingly poor results on the field.
With this latest article, we decided to highlight work done by Pro Football Focus, a site whose stats system is a bit more subjective than FO's, but is worth noting because it offers another perspective. With this perspective, PFF tells us that Colts left tackle Charlie Johnson kind of sucked at his job in 2010, which was protecting the blindside of Peyton Manning.
But, unlike the putrid play of the Colts defense, I'm not angry at ole Charlie.
In fact, this info from PFF just reinforces what we were screaming about prior to the 2010 season: The Colts desperately needed a new o-line, and the tackle position was Priority No. 1. Thankfully, the team brass used the 2011 NFL Draft to address the problem. When you look at PFF's evaluation of Charlie at left tackle, you know why Chris Polian practically swallowed the phone receiver when he likely screamed 'WE TAKE ANTHONY F*CKING CASTONZO!' as the Colts were on the clock back in April with the Boston College tackle was still sitting there at pick No. 22.
Just so people know where I come from, I follow a simple formula: If you're paid a lot, you should produce.
Not complicated. Not ground-breaking or earth-shattering. Not even very original. But, it's a pretty good way to determine who is 'good' and who 'sucks' on your team's roster. Money breeds expectations, and when those expectations aren't met, then the money given to said player was kind of wasted. The Colts clearly didn't give Kelvin Hayden $13.5 million in roster bonus money in 2009 just so he could suck in 2010. Hayden has been a disappointment since signing that deal, and so far that deal has hindered Indy's ability to win a championship, not helped it.
Some people oddly think this way of judging players is 'unfair.' I honestly don't know what world these people live in, but Kelvin Hayden (and those like him) knew full and well that by taking more money the expectations for them would increase. If he didn't want more scrutiny, he shouldn't have taken the money. I was personally much more forgiving of Hayden's screw-ups before 2009 for the simple reason that he counted little against our cap. Now that he is a significant drain on the cap, I'm not down with his chronic injuries and less-than-stellar coverage skills.
It's for reasons related to this that I don't get 'angry' when I see Charlie Johnson ranked as the 8th worst left tackle in all of football.
Charlie, when compared to players like Hayden, makes chump change. He has no long-term contract. He has no guarantees, no bonus money, nothing. He's a sixth round pick from the 2006 draft whose played every offensive line position, save center. He's an underpaid, over-worked utility man. He's a player who covers up f*ck ups by Colts management (namely Tony Ugoh).
He's also a guy who has played out of position for two years.
Sure, he can step in for a few games and play solid at left tackle. But, start? No. He simply doesn't have the talent, and that's not Charlie's fault. Thus, because he lacks overall 'great' talent, and because his contract doesn't kill the salary cap for the Colts, I don't hate on ole Charlie.
Now, for guys like Anthony Castonzo, the expectations are different. Castonzo is a first round pick. He's going to make a ton of money. He's going to count significantly against our cap (if there is one). If he busts, ala Tony Ugoh, heads should roll within the football operations area of West 56th Street. Like it or not, talent evaluators are evaluated themselves on how effectively their talent develops. One cannot take credit, and awards, for drafting 'great' players and then dodge the criticism when they draft busts.
And with Castonzo now in the fold, and Chris Polian saying he is the starter at left tackle, this means Charlie can move back to his natural spot at guard, and we can start seeing some semblance of a running game in 2011. Then, who knows? Maybe Charlie will earn himself a new contract. If and when he does, the day he signs that contract, the expectations for him will change.
That's how the NFL works, folks.