On what is usually a quiet day for players and coaches around the National Football League, who usually have Tuesdays off, there was certainly a lot of news coming from the league this week.
First came reports that the Jacksonville Jaguars had fired coach Jack Del Rio and that the team had been sold to Illinois businessman Shahid Kahn. The sale of the team, though, won’t be finalized until a vote of NFL owners on Jan. 4.
Then came the news that the Indianapolis Colts had fired defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and that backup Dan Orlovsky will start at quarterback in Sunday’s road game with New England.
Coyer, a long time friend and confidante of coach Jim Caldwell, has been in charge of the Colts’ defense since the start of the 2009 season. He replaced longtime coordinator Ron Meeks when Caldwell took over as head coach after Tony Dungy’s retirement.
“We’ve made an organizational decision [Tuesday] afternoon, we actually made it [Monday] night, to relieve Larry Coyer of his duties as defensive coordinator. Mike Murphy is going to take over those responsibilities of certainly manning the defense but also handling his linebacker coaching duties as well,” Caldwell said during a hastily called press conference.
“The move was made to improve our production and obviously our communication as well. As we, and when I say we I’m talking about [vice president] Bill [Polian] and [vice president and general manager] Chris [Polian] and I have had discussions, and certainly came up with the best move for us at this particular point in time. We feel this is the most effective and realistic way of moving forward and getting ourselves in position to win games. We certainly appreciate everything that coach Coyer has done for us over the three years and appreciate all of his efforts and hard work because he really was certainly a strong team member.”
Murphy, who has been with the team since 1998, will take over as defensive coordinator for the remainder of the season. He has been a defensive coordinator on the college level at Idaho State (1976) and at the pro level (the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1979-83). This is his first NFL coordinator assignment.
The timing of the decision to jettison Coyer and replace Curtis Painter with Orlovsky is interesting. The Colts had a bye prior to last Sunday’s home game with Carolina. That would have seemed like a more opportune time to make changes rather than waiting until a few days before a rough road trip to Foxborough.
“There’s never a good time, never a good time to make a move like this, whether it’s early, late or after the season. It’s difficult. You’re dealing with individuals in their profession and also families as well. But this was the best decision and best time for us to make a change and make something happen,” Caldwell said of Coyer’s dismissal.
“We tried, we waited, we took a look at different situations, we had two particular weeks to prepare for this particular game [with the Panthers], thus here we are. So we’re looking at the future now, obviously, trying to make certain that we look forward and talk about the immediate future of this next game coming up this weekend. We’ve got to get ready to go.”
From a personal side, removing Coyer from his coaching staff hurts. The two have been close since Caldwell played for Coyer as a defensive back at Iowa. He was also a graduate assistant coach under him for one year at his alma mater.
“It’s not an easy day," Caldwell admitted. "I’ll be honest with you. Anybody that would tell you any differently is coldhearted and callous. That’s not me. I’ve known him a long time. He coached me in college. Good man. Hard worker. And I certainly appreciate everything he has done for us.”
There will be some changes in terms of scheme and personnel with Murphy running the show on defense. The Colts coach, though, didn't want to get into specifics.
“Certainly you’re going to see some things that change a little bit. I’m not going to go into the details of what those things are because I don’t want to certainly give our opponents any advantages in that regard, but you’ll see some adjustments," he said.
“But overall, the core of our principles in terms of how we run our [defense], and in essence this is also getting back to some of the things we used to do and do well.”
The Colts' new defensive coordinator is well respected in the team's locker room and has close relationships with several key players, including defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
"Murph certainly understands the system extremely well. He’s been in it. He coached it at its inception, when it was first put in here, and he’s a guy that has a good breadth of the defense just overall in terms of calls," Caldwell explained.
“He’s always relayed the calls into the game. He’s been integral and certainly involved in the game planning week to week. He’s at a position where he has to know, and particularly the linebackers -- they’re like quarterbacks -- so they know everything. They know what’s going on in front of them; they know how to adapt, and also what’s going on behind them."
As for Orlovsky taking over as the team's starting quarterback, the Colts coach said the timing was right for such a move.
"After evaluation and taking a real good look at him, I think Curtis [Painter] had a couple of good weeks to really get it under under his belt. We had two solid weeks in terms of [bye] week and then going into the[Carolina] ball game," Caldwell said. “[Curtis] did some things better but overall not quite what we were looking for."
Orlovsky — who grew up and attended high school in Shelton, Connecticut and played at the University of Connecticut — will be returning to familiar territory this week. He has completed 14-of-21 passes for 122 yards in limited playing time this season.
"He’s a guy that certainly is comfortable within the framework of the [Colts' offensive] system. He’s also a guy that’s been around the league a while so he’s able to adjust and adapt to different systemic problems that you may have or see from a defense, give you different looks. He can adjust to those very easily," Caldwell said.
"I’m anticipating he’s got a nice strong arm. We’re anticipating that he’s going to be accurate as well and that’s key. The big thing, obviously, is to stay away from turnovers and he’s got to play smart and not scared.”
The Indianapolis coaching staff will most likely pare down the team's offensive system in order to best utilize Orlovsky's abilities.
"We will do adjustments according to his strengths. That’s one of the things that you have to look at and certainly have to evaluate. So what we’ll do is let him do the things that he does well within the framework of our offensive system," Caldwell said.
On what is usually a quiet day for players and coaches around the National Football League, who usually have Tuesdays off, there was certainly a lot of news coming from the league this week.
Colts not standing pat in looking toward 2013 season
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He understands their concerns, but isn’t worried about learning the intricacies Colts’ 3-4 hybrid package.
Colts in harmony with new coordinator Hamilton
With new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton now running the show, the Colts are in the middle of a metamorphosis from the downfield, big-play system that was utilized by former coordinator Bruce Arians to more of a West Coast scheme that will look to make more use of the short, controlled passing game.
According to Andrew Luck, so far so good.
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Luck having fun with his first OTAs
A year ago, quarterback Andrew Luck was unable to attend the Indianapolis Colts’ organized team activity practices due to school commitments at Stanford.
Luck, though, went on to have a stellar year for the Colts despite the lack of summer work with the team. Still, in a sense, he is a rookie during this year’s OTA workouts.
“These are my first OTAs. I missed these last year, so I think it’s great. It’s great to get on the field with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff. Obviously, some of us ran some of this stuff [offense] at Stanford [under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton]. But to get out there with the defense and trouble-shoot some stuff is good,” Luck said Wednesday as the team wrapped up its first week of on-field voluntary practice sessions.
Colts' coordinators enjoying getting rookies acclimated
While the Indianapolis Colts put their rookies and a handful of second-year players through workouts this weekend at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, a pair of first-year coordinators are getting a chance to do some valuable on-field work as well.
Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
The Indianapolis Colts welcomed 37 players to the start of the team’s rookie mini camp Friday at the West 56th Street headquarters.
Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
Direction clear for Colts in 2013 draft
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Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
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Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
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Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
Former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his retirement from the National Football League official on Thursday.
Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
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Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
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Among the offensive line candidates who have been showcasing their talents at the National Football Scouting Combine, which began in earnest Thursday and wraps up on Tuesday, the spotlight has been on the offensive tackles. Offensive left tackles in particular.
Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
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