After years of bashing them for their coverage of Marvin Harrison allegedly wounding a known criminal with a handgun outside Harrison's bar in Philadelphia, I've become friendly with the editors at Pro Football Talk, in particular Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal.
Mike and Gregg have done a lot to change the landscape of 'fan blogging' in recent years. Regardless of what people think about the site, PFT is a very valued news source for NFL fans that presents key information about the league we love in an accessible format.
And unlike newspapers properties, TV, and online sites like Gannet, Comcast, ESPN, and the NY Times, PFT can present the truth unfiltered and without pretense for the simple reason that PFT's content is not reliant on player and franchise access. As George Dohrmann of Sports Illustrated recently said in an interview with Dan Patrick about blowing the lid off the Ohio State scandal that brought down Jim Tressel, if one is looking for the truth on a subject, especially when that truth involves multi-billion dollar sports leagues like the NCAA and NFL:
You don't get much going through the front door.
Teams hate PFT because back-channel people talk to PFT, and PFT will report on what those people say without having to worry about retaliation from the teams they are reporting on. Retaliation often comes in the form of cutting off access. PFT doesn't need access to be relevant. This drives teams who are irrationally obsessed with information control and image building absolutely insane. It's the kind of work we once expected from newspapers, TV, and online sites.
I won't say that I've re-modeled Stampede Blue to be like PFT, but I will say that after many conversations over the years with Mike about what is relevant in terms of NFL-related news and information, my eyes were opened a bit.
That said, as much as I read PFT, it's pretty damned evident PFT reads us as well, especially when you take one look at their Team Checklist article for the Indianapolis Colts.
Here are some key highlights from the article, which provides an eight-point checklist for what the Colts should do prior to the 2011 season:
2. Bring back Joseph Addai.
The Colts don’t trust third-year player Donald Brown. Trusting fourth-round pick Delone Carter to handle a big role in a complex offense is expecting too much. The rest of the depth chart are "just guys."
3. Get numbers at defensive tackle.
Taking Drake Nevis in the third round doesn’t solve this long-time trouble spot. Super Bowl starters Antonio Johnson and Dan Muir are both free agents. The Colts should bring Johnson back and possibly another decent body for depth.
Both starters are set to hit free agency. Session is the better player, but will cost more to keep. With Bob Sanders gone, keeping Bullitt at a thin safety spot almost looks like a necessity. Why should we think this team’s run defense will improve?
I encourage you to read the rest of the article because it's pretty spot-on with all the things the Colts need to do. And FYI, Gregg is a Patriots fan, which proves not all Pats fans are idiots when it comes to writing about the Colts.