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Reveiwing the pre-season thus far and 2009's first cutdown day

All NFL teams have to cut down to 75 players by September 1st (tomorrow). Already, we've seen a few surprising cuts, such as Kevin O'Connell of the Patriots. He was a 3rd round pick just one year ago. Talk about a wasted draft slot.

Like everyone else, the Colts will have to cut down to 75. I think it is fair to suggest that John Matthews is getting the boot. His inability to do what wide receivers are paid good money to do (catch the ball) was the reason the Colts lost their third pre-season game.

Speaking of the Lions game, you could tell during the press conference afterward that coach Jim Caldwell was not pleased. He stated "It was kind of a tale of two halves for us." Indeed, the Colts came out slow on defense, missing tackles left and right, allowing the Lions to stay on the field. In the second half, the defense stiffened and started playing like, you know, professional athletes.

One side note: Freddy Keiaho has really regressed. He was awful playing as the back-up MIKE Saturday. Why did Polian let Adam Seward go? He never played as bad as Keiaho played Saturday. Michael Tauiliili outplayed Freddy in the second half, and if a decision had to be made today, Freddy would get the boot in my mind.

The next day, after watching the tape of the game, Caldwell was a little more upbeat:

"It's amazing when you look at the film you see something a little different than you would have imagined," Caldwell said Sunday afternoon, a day after the Colts lost the third game of the 2009 preseason, 18-17, to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich.

"We weren't perfect up front, but the defensive interior – some of the big guys – were able to do pretty well. We just had a few mishaps in there and a few missed tackles at the next level.

"That's where they got a lot of their big gains."

The main cause for why Detroit was able to play so effectively in the first half? Poor tackling. Pure and simple. Players were in position a number of times to either stop the opponent behind the line, or limit positive yardage. Several times in the first half, defensive players just flat out whiffed.

Like many of you, I often marvel as to how pathetic it looks when the most basic, most seemingly fundamental trait of any NFL player is often the one most players simply are not good at: Tackling. Tackling is the backbone of football; that, and the ball itself. The old adage when describing the game to someone who doesn't know or understand it? Above all else, tackle the guy with the ball. If you can't do that, you really cannot play football.

"It was more a fundamental tackling issue than it was anything from schematic standpoint," Caldwell said, adding that he would have thought differently the previous day.

Wow, that makes me feel sooooooooooooooo much better. Here, I have a better idea, Coach. Most of the people I saw miss tackles yesterday were veteran players, not necessarily rookies. Needless to say, if veteran players do not know how to tackle the opponent by now, it's safe to say that they suck and likely should be cut. Working on tackling in practice when we are less than two weeks from the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars is not the kind of thing I expect from a professional football team.

In short, keep the guys who can tackle. Cut the guys who can't.

Sorry folks, but nothing pisses me off in football more than missed tackles and dropped passes (like Anthony Gonzalez dropping a sure 40-plus yard TD). I understand it is pre-season, and this is the time to get all that out of your system. But tackling and catching are fundamental. You can either do them or you can't. If I see this kind of crap from the Colts as the season progresses (missed tackles, dropped passes, bad technique, etc.) I'm going to lose my mind. We saw plenty of that back in 2008.

I still have a lot of hope for this 2009 team, but the group I saw Saturday was a sloppy, slow, seemingly unmotivated team that did not come out fired up and ready to showcase something. If this was a "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, then we are in BIG trouble. The excuses for missed tackles, assignments, and other unforgivable errors have been used up.

At this point, guys can either do the job, or they can't.