Terry and Tuna Helper over at BTB found this little gem of an article and asked for my comments. Both these guys are big, fat Cowboy homers, and I love them both for it. I don't say this to patronize them. I really mean it. The reason the NFL is so great is because people like Terry and Tuna Helper love their teams unconditionally, and Cowboy fans are NOTORIOUS for being so homer is makes the skin crawl.
Anyway, back on subject: Terry and Tuna Helper would like my take on Don Pierson's NBC Sports article claiming the Colts are no closer to the Super Bowl than last year. In fact, Don even suggests that the Colts will regress last year as their only meaningful addition, in his opinion, was Adam Vinatieri, and that the lose of Edgerrin James is too much for the team to overcome. My opinion on the article is as follows:
Don's article is a vapid, shallow piece of elephant dung, and he doesn't know what he's writing about. His arguments are lazily researched and full of so many holes a battleship could sail through them.
Yes, I know that comes off harsh, but I have high expectations of sports writers that are paid handsomely to spew their opinions on football. Because they are paid well (Peirson works for NBC and for the Chicago Tribune, so he's taking home a good paycheck each month), I expect them to possess two distinct qualities:
1) A knowledge of NFL teams and how they operate
2) An ability to separate rumor from facts
Sadly, Don possess neither quality. Take this little nugget:For three offseasons in a row, the Colts have lost more free agents to other teams than they have signed. Although they have managed to keep most of their own, starting with huge contract extensions to Manning, Harrison and Reggie Wayne, James became the first major defection. Two other defensive stalwarts, linebacker David Thornton and tackle Larry Tripplett, also left this offseason, so it is hard to argue a net gain, even though Vinatieri is the best kicker in football.
Ah yes, another sports "journalist" calling David Thornton and Larry Tripplett "defensive stalwarts." Apparently, the last three years are a forgotten blur to Don. The Colts have lost free agents Mike Peterson, Marcus Washington, Walt Harris, David Thornton, and Larry Tripplett in the last three years. Yet, each and every year, the defense has gotten better and better.
Hmmmmm. Sounds like that's a rather important statistic, doesn't it?
It's detailed knowledge like this that I expect to see from sports "journalists" like Don Pierson. So Don, if the formula for letting defensive free agents go is working and the defense gets better as a result, why are you saying the loses of Thornton and Tripplett will hurt the club?
The simple answer to this is Don doesn't know what he's talking about. He sees Tennessee and Buffalo forking over big bucks for these guys and just assumes they are that important. Even a casual NFL fan will tell you that big money doesn't mean the player offered it is any good. Look at Michael Vick. He makes more money than Peyton Manning, and he stinks as a QB. And anyone who knows the Colts will tell you that Tennessee and Buffalo drastically overpaid for Thornton and Tripplett, respectively. Thornton was fifth on the team in tackles last year, and got a five-year contract worth $4.5 million annually and $8 million in bonuses. Tripplett was a back-up, and got $18 million for five years from Buffalo, including a $5.5 million signing bonus. And while Tripplett and Thornton did contribute last season, their statistics clearly show they weren't "stalwarts."
But enough on bashing Don for missing these little details. Let's get to the real reason why Don thinks the Colts will regress:Losing [Edgerrin] James has left Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison as twins instead of triplets, with no obvious suitable replacement in sight. Of course, coach Tony Dungy disputes that notion, and it is Dungy's steady hand that keeps the Colts a contenders.
"You always find the next person," Dungy said. "I just think back to when Marshall (Faulk) left. I know it was the same thing in the city, `How are we going to replace this guy?' We found Edge and we'll find someone else."
But you have to wonder...
It's tough to argue that the lose of James won't hurt the Colts. James is a great player. However, its safe to say that Pierson is fairly alone in his assessment that losing James will regress the Colts. Dominic Rhodes has proved he can carry the team as a running back. He did it in 2001. Addai had a very impressive mini-camp, and has many football people buzzing. Between these two, the Colts running attack should be fine, but that's not the issue.
Pierson seems to think that in order for a club to win a Super Bowl, it must have a strong signature running back. Funny, but I don't recall the 2001 or 2003 Patriots having such a strong running back. Pittsburgh last season did not have a single strong running back that could carry the load. Bettis was washed up, Staley was limited, and Parker is a speed back who is injury prone. Yet, between the three of them they created a strong running game and ultimately won the Super Bowl.
Again, the facts seem to get in the way of Don's opinion.
Don also suggests that if the Colts played in a division other than the AFC South, they'd be D-O-N-E:>In any other AFC division, they would be much more vulnerable. The Steelers beat them up, adding fuel to the notion that the Colts are not particularly physical. In James, they lost their main link to toughness. He is not a finesse back.
The San Diego Chargers finished third in the AFC West yet became the team that ended the Colts' unbeaten season, in the RCA Dome no less. The Patriots and Miami Dolphins and the rest of the AFC East are on the Colts' schedule this season.With this section, Don Pierson manages to prove that he is not only intellectually stupid, but uninformed as well. The Colts needed 13 wins to claim the AFC South. Their division rival Jacksonville won 12 games last season, with 2 of its 4 loses coming to the Colts. It stands to reason that if you need to win 13 games to win your division, you play in a tough division. And for Pierson to call the AFC East or West "tough" divisions for the Colts is laughable. New England won the East with a mere 10 wins and a defense so porous it made Atlanta Falcon's back-up QB Matt Schaub look like Johnny Unitas. Denver won the AFC West, a division that features the "stalwart" defenses of the Chiefs and Raiders. Also, has Don watched the playoff games between Indy and Denver? Don calls the friggin' Chargers as a better team than the Colts because they beat them in a meaningless late season game where the Colts rested starters after locking up home field.
And then we come to this ridiculous gem:The Steelers beat them [the Colts] up, adding fuel to the notion that the Colts are not particularly physical. In James, they lost their main link to toughness. He is not a finesse back. Every time I see some ignorant writer call the Colts soft, it makes me shake my head and wonder why the guy is employed. And to call James the Colts' "main link to toughness" proves that Pierson has never seen Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne, or even Bob Sanders play. I expect such idiocy from Colts haters, but from sports writers it is unacceptable. I don't know what game Don was watching in January, but the Steelers certainly did not beat the Colts up. They were successful getting pressure on Manning, but Pittsburgh only rushed for 2.7 yards a carry and had several key turnovers. They won the game by 3 points in a fourth quarter nail-biter because the Colts kicker missed a gimme field goal at the end of the game.
I'm sure Don feels teams like Denver, New England, and Seattle are "more physical" than Indy, even though Pittsburgh blew out both the Broncos (34 points) and the Seahawks (181 rushing yards, 5.5 yards per rush), something they did not do against the Colts. The Colts game was the biggest physical test the Steelers had in the 2006 playoffs. Yet, the Colts are soft in Don's eyes.
I have no problem with writers claiming the Colts will have problems replacing Edgerrin James. I agree with such a claim. It will be hard. Impossible? No, especially when the Colts have a proven rusher in Rhodes and a very good prospect in Addai. But to call them soft and to claim that they'd be worse playing in another division when the facts show otherwise proves to me that morons like Don Pierson have no business getting paid to write about football.
This is why people should forego these uninformed writers and read blogs. Pierson does not know the Colts. He doesn't follow them, nor does he do good research on them. If I was a journalist like Pierson writing an article on a team like the Cowboys for example, I'd better make damn sure I do my research. I'd call the Cowboys beat writers. I'd interview players. I'd research their history. That's what journalists are supposedly PAID for. Most importantly, it's their job to distinguish fact from rumor. This is basic journalism 101, and yet Pierson fails at this as well:Dungy argues that backup running back Dominic Rhodes is an outstanding player awaiting discovery. Rookie Joseph Addai of LSU also comes highly touted, although Manning confided to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that New England landed the runner Indy really wanted, Lawrence Maroney. Just so people understand, it was rumored Manning said this to Brady, and even in the rumor he said it jokingly. In any case, WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO with the Addai? New England drafted ahead of Indy. That would suggest that Maroney is indeed better than Addai, or at least he better be. Otherwise, New England wasted its pick. Still, the fact that Maroney was drafted ahead of Addai somehow means Addai is no longer "highly touted?" Obviously, it doesn't, which is why citing this rumor as a way to question Addai is silly. It's the kind of stuff I expect from fans, not journalists.
Articles like Pierson's are hack pieces. He just whipped something together in order to meet a deadline without actually doing any work. If you want to know about the Colts, read the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel or read Stampede Blue. If you want ignorant hack pieces that have no basis in fact or logic, read Don Pierson's work.