ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 13: Carnell Williams #33 of the St. Louis Rams scores on a one-yard touchdown run during the first half of the NFL preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Edward Jones Dome on August 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Paul Kuharsky is a nice guy. I've met him a few times. We've chatted. I enjoy poking fun of his muted Jersey accent.
Todd from Pennsylvania writes: With the Colts apparently content to stand pat on the nose tackle position even though Antonio Johnson is the only true nose tackle with any experience on the roster, does he suddenly become the Colts second most important player to keep healthy? (behind Peyton Manning of course).
PK: Seriously? Replace a mediocre nose tackle with a bad nose tackle and it’s not a big deal. Replacing Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Antoine Bethea, Austin Collie, or even Dallas Clark would be far, far more difficult. You can also find nose tackles on the street -- see Johnson as an example. They signed him from Titans’ practice squad when they got him.
Of starters, Johnson is probably the most replaceable.
Really, Paul? Well, if a nose tackle is so easy to find 'on the street,' as you state, why haven't the Colts been able to fully address the position, or provide quality depth behind Mookie? If they could sign just anyone, where is that 'anyone?' If it is the most replaceable, why the hell did they sign Corey Simon to that contract in 2005, or trade for Booger McFarland in 2006.
If it's so darn easy, if seemingly anyone can play the position, why have the Colts been so consistently gashed up the middle by mediocre running backs in this league?
FYI: Last night against the Rams in preseason, Cadillac Williams (no speed, bad knees) and Keith Toston (who?) bashed the Colts for 169 rushing yards at 4.1 a carry. Imagine what that number would have been in a real game, sans Mookie, and with a 'bad nose tackle,' as Kuharsky suggests.
I'm obviously not saying Mookie is more important than Dwight Freeney. But, without a true nose tackle who can stand up against the run, it doesn't matter if the Colts have Freeney, Mathis, or a robot Dick Butkus with flamethrowers for hands. Teams will ram the football down Indy's throat, limit their passing opportunities, and beat the Colts in the first round of the playoffs like they've done three of the last four years.