During his nine seasons in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans, Jeff Fishers got well acquainted with the Indianapolis Colts.
He led the Titans to four playoff appearances while becoming the most consistent threat to the Colts reign on the division.
Fisher will return to Indianapolis this 2013, this time as the headman in charge of the St. Louis Rams.
There is continuity in St. Louis and that has Fisher intrigued heading into the spring.
“I’m probably equally excited about the offseason at the facility _ the offseason program,” Fisher said. “The fact that both sides of the ball are staying in the same system. We’re gonna improve our young players. So I’d like to think by the end of the offseason that we’re a better team than we were when we finished (2012).
The Rams are coming off a 7-8-1 record in 2012 but did win four of their final six games, falling 2.5 games out of a playoff berth.
One bright spot St. Louis can point to last year was compiling a 1-0-1 record against the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.
“We made some plays in both the overtime games,” Fisher said of the 49ers contests. “Both teams had opportunities, mind you, they missed a field goal in each one of those in overtime. But we stayed in them and guys played hard.”
Quarterback Sam Bradford will be entering his fourth season as the Rams starting signal caller.
Last year, Bradford threw for a career-best 3,702 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“I think you’ll see more production out of (Bradford) week-to-week,” Fisher said. “Probably a little bit more consistency out of him, not that he was inconsistent.”
“When you stay in the same system over time, you feel much more comfortable. One can only imagine what it’s been like for him the last few years going through three different offensive philosophies and systems.”
The NFC West placed two teams into the playoffs last season with the Rams striving to get themselves into a picture with a leader that has coaching experience in January.
“If we’re doing our job _ we identify strengths and weaknesses in not only the younger players but all of our players _ and you have to address those things during the offseason,” Fisher said.
“That process is well underway. As frustrated as we are that we can’t really put our hands on them (until start of Rams offseason program April 15), we’re going to take advantage of the time that we have starting in April to work with the young guys.”
Tags: Jeff Fisher, Sam Bradford, st. louis rams
Posted in Colts Blog
USC quarterback Matt Barkley soared to many heights in four years, but a late-season injury in 2012 cost him the Notre Dame and Georgia Tech games with what he confirmed this week at the combine was a separated shoulder.
Barkley is a non-participant in drills this week, pointing to his pro day on March 27 as when, “I should be perfect to throw.”
Barkley, 6-2, 230, is one of 19 quarterbacks attending the combine. He is the latest of a long line of Trojan quarterbacks trying to make a mark in the NFL.
Barkley leads the list of combine QBs and believes he is the best performer in a draft class that includes Geno Smith and Mike Glennon, among others.
“I believe I am. I don’t think you can go into the draft not thinking you are,” said Barkley on Friday.
Barkley returned for a senior season after drawing some NFL attention a year ago. That draft class included Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, and Barkley said he did not regret his decision.
“(I) wouldn’t change my USC career for anything,” he said.
In 47 games, Barkley earned a 34-13 starting record. In passing for more than 12,000 yards and 116 touchdowns, he set 20 school record career, season and game records, 10 of which established Pac-12 records.
Barkley was queried on past successes and non-successes of USC quarterbacks in the NFL. He cautioned that his story is his own and comparisons aren’t necessarily a fair thing to make.
That said, he admitted there is work to do.
“I think there’s always something to prove,” said Barkley. “I think you’re always looking for ways to better yourself. There’s definitely things I can improve on.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll has a USC lineage. He also had the talents of Wilson in 2012. Carroll feels Barkley is set for the next step.
“I don’t think there’s anything that’s stopping him from being a starter right away,” said Carroll. “Now that quarterbacks can come in and make their way into the league and do it in such quick order, Matt will be able to do it, too.”
This year’s QB crop does not have the sizzle of last year’s bunch when Luck and Griffin III went 1-2, while Ryan Tannehill (8th) and Brandon Weeden (22nd) went in the opening round.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Brandon Weeden, Geno Smith, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon, Pete Carroll, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill
Posted in Colts Blog
For the first time since 2004, the Oakland Raiders will head east for a regular season matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Raiders coaching staff has had a very busy offseason taking part in the Senior Bowl by coaching the North team.
“It was an outstanding experience for us, for our staff to be able to be there and see those players up close and personal and evaluate, not how they play the game of football, but really what types of people they really are,” Allen said.
“The ability to get to know those guys a little bit gives us some inside information and helps us make a better decision on draft day.”
Allen and his staff feel that they have a bit of a leg up on some of the other team’s around the league after spending a week in Mobile working hands-on with numerous players that will hear their name called come late April.
After a 4-12 regular season, the Raiders carry the No. 3 pick into this year’s draft and will evaluate all options in helping to improve their roster.
“What we got to do is we’ve got to begin to identify what’s out there and what’s available in the draft as well as through free agency, both with our own players we had last year and also with what’s out there on the market and try to categorize where you think you might be able to fill needs, whether you’re going to do it through free agency or whether this is a draft that’s deep enough that you can do it through that,” Allen said.
In Allen’s first-year as Raiders head coach, Oakland was 3-4 heading into the month of November and in the middle of a crowded AFC West.
The Raiders sputtered down the stretch, losing eight of their last nine and never scored over 21 points.
Allen is optimistic though that with an established staff, there will be success in Year 2.
“Last year it was the Senior Bowl when I got hired,” Allen said. “We’d just completed the staff and really gotten our feet on the ground.
“This offseason we’ve had some time to hit the ground running a little bit and I think we have a clear plan of what we’re trying to get done and what we want to get accomplished this year.”
Tags: Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders
Posted in Colts Blog
In playing 51 games at Notre Dame, predominantly in the middle of the Irish defense, Manti Te’o rarely found himself far from center stage.
Today will be no different at Lucas Oil Stadium. Te’o will be the focus of attention by a healthy percentage of the 800-plus credentialed media at the combine.
It will be anything but off-Broadway, or off-Capitol Street in the case of Indianapolis.
There have been interview attractions through the years. Before players were put into a podium structure, they were backed into corners of hotel areas while media pounced.
In 1998, Peyton Manning was up against wall in the restaurant of the Holiday Inn Crowne Center as NFL scribes worked him over. Manning handled it with his typical aplomb for 20 minutes. Last year, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III held structured availabilities that drew masses.
Today, Te’o may set a record.
Te’o will cut through the crowd to address questions likely not too related to his measurables. It will be necessary for the personal matter he has endured over the past few weeks.
Players from Notre Dame are famous for their poise. Te’o should play his own game. He has done well to this point in a difficult situation, and observers should expect nothing different today.
Personnel evaluators will have their chances with him in private interviews. Many, such as John Elway, were prominent collegians, too. They remember the challenges of youth, and they now are charged with bringing young adults into a very professional, competitive business.
“I just want to talk to him,” said Elway. “Personally, I don’t get caught up in everything that is swirling around him. I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking to him.
“I know him as a football player. He’s a very good football player. He’s going to have a successful career in the NFL.”
Today will not be the first time Te’o has been in this public position, and it won’t be his last.
Former teammate Tyler Eifert drew less notice on Friday when he met with combine media, and he feels Te’o is holding up well.
“Manti is one of my good friends and he’s a good person with a good heart. He’s just got stuck in a bad situation,” said Eifert. “He’s doing great. I’m sure he’ll be a little bit nervous, but there is nothing for him to be nervous about. I’m sure he’ll get a lot of questions about it. He’s a smart, smart guy. He didn’t do anything wrong. But he’ll be able to answer those questions.”
Tags: John Elway, Manti Te'o, Peyton Manning, Tyler Eifert
Posted in Colts Blog
The 2013 campaign marks Marvin Lewis’ 11th as the head football coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
After back-to-back playoff appearance, Lewis has the Bengals on the cusp of a deep playoff run.
The last two seasons the Bengals have dropped road Wild Card contests to the Houston Texans.
Heading into the offseason, Lewis is looking to get over the hump of four Wild Card defeats during his 10 seasons with Cincinnati.
“We’ve had opportunities and haven’t played as well in those games. I didn’t think that would be an issue for us,” Lewis said of past playoff disappointments.
“We played the last half of the season like those were playoff games. We knew that if we lose the games we were going to be out of it. We put wins together but didn’t go down in Houston and play well. We were relaxed but didn’t have that resolve or attack.”
Third-year starting quarterback Andy Dalton showed steady improvement this past year, improving in virtually every statistical category.
Dalton has transformed from a second-round draft pick into a starting NFL quarterback from day one and has led his team to playoff berths each year..
“(Dalton) continued to grow and become the leader of the team. That’s what I challenged him throughout the year to do and he did a great job of responding to that,” Dalton said.
“As we go into Year 3 there are some things and some plays that we continue to leave out there. We want to get better at that”
Young talent for the Bengals extends to both sides of the ball and at virtually every position.
Lewis said that in order to get over that playoff hump, the focus this offseason has to be on ‘everyone.’
“I have a lot of disappointing losses. I remember them more than the wins,” Lewis said.
“I feel confident with our guys. We’ll be a better team this season. Guys realize you don’t get to start off where you left off. We’re going to have change but whatever that is we’re all going to have to get better.”
Tags: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin Lewis
Posted in Colts Blog