Charles Robinson

  • Matt Hasselbeck, other aging stars come to Colts' rescue against Texans

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    You're not supposed to build a franchise with pieces like this. You're most certainly not supposed to win by counting on them. But here we are, with the Andrew Luck-less Colts suddenly on a two-game winning streak without their young superstar quarterback. And coming out of Thursday boasting a gritty 27-20 win over the Houston Texans, in which every single point was scored by four guys: Hasselbeck, Johnson, Gore and 42-year old kicker Adam Vinatieri. The average age of that quartet? A spry 37.

    Don't look now, but something happened on the way to the early bird special. The Colts started leaning on their graying pieces, and it has brought them unexpected life (and a perch on top of the AFC South, too).

    "Fountain of youth," Colts coach Chuck Pagano joked. "[Gore and Johnson] are from Miami, so I guess you go down there and find Ponce de Leon and find the fountain of youth. I spent six years down there sipping out of that thing myself."

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  • 10 hard truths entering Week 5

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    It takes a month. This is what some coaches routinely say. To take a finger and accurately trace an NFL team's trajectory, coaching staffs have to drop a shoulder and plow a month into the season. Once they reach that weigh station, strengths and weaknesses materialize more accurately. Offseason failures and successes begin to crystallize. To borrow some coach-speak, you begin to become who you are in that particular season.

    Embracing that four-week benchmark, it's time to start dispelling some of the counterfeit offseason storylines. With most teams getting four weeks of regular-season games under their belts, some realities have begun to take shape. Some errors in judgment have become obvious. In essence, we have finally reached the point of knowing what was unknowable a month ago.

    With that in mind, here are 10 things that have materialized as we enter the second quarter of the regular season …

    1. Those who predicted Tom Brady's blazing start were right

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  • This is why 49ers built Kaepernick's $126M deal in such shrewd fashion

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Every offseason for the next several years, there is a contractual trapdoor under Colin Kaepernick – and perhaps now we know why. Maybe the San Francisco 49ers were always hedging against what is happening now, protecting against a potential unraveling of the star quarterback they leaned upon so heavily.

    NFL contracts are cruel that way. They're naked and unemotional. There is a finite bluntness in their raw numbers and guarantees. Sometimes the digits and clauses say things that a coaching staff can't or a front office won't. And looking back at the $126 million extension Kaepernick signed in 2014, it's fair to wonder how certain the franchise was in his development. The 49ers built a whole lot of exits into his deal with very little "real" guaranteed money from one season to the next. Concisely, San Francisco has an opportunity (multiple, actually) to cut the cord with Kaepernick in the coming offseasons. That means if his current decline continues, you have to wonder if the 49ers will take that opportunity sooner rather than later.

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  • Steelers' identity crisis goes beyond Michael Vick's sub role for Big Ben

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    PITTSBURGH – When the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room cracked open at midnight on Friday, an ominous serpentine flood of cameras and microphones moved through silence to the corner locker of Josh Scobee. This kind of thing is a rarity in the NFL, when a media swarm bypasses stars and coagulates into a mass around a kicker. It's rarely a good thing, and any ambiguity on this occasion was clarified by several fully uniformed players sinking into folding chairs and staring blankly into space.

    "I feel like I let the team down," Scobee said, answering for a pair of missed field goals that resulted in the Steelers heading to overtime, a period that they avoided using the kicker entirely and lost 23-20 to the Baltimore Ravens. "It's not something I want to ever remember doing."

    "It's painful tonight, but this game is not going to define us," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's a building block for us as we move forward. There are things to learn from it."

  • Steelers perfect fit for Michael Vick 4.0?

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    Even now, Dan Reeves still sees remnants of Michael Vick's college scouting report, from the fire hose arm to the footwork of a gazelle. Yes, 14 years of peaks and valleys have changed the guy Reeves drafted No. 1 overall in 2001. But the natural gifts? They have endured.

    "A tremendous amount of talent," Reeves said this week, fresh off a golf course on the outskirts of Atlanta. "That's the reason the Pittsburgh Steelers were interested in him – his talent, but also the experience. The longer you're in the league, you have a better grasp of things."

    Maybe that's the key word for Vick at this stage: grasp.

    He takes command of the Steelers on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, in the saddle of a one-year contract, firmly transitioned into the role of backup quarterback. And that's the distinction about this opportunity versus the past. He's not being looked upon as a savior or an answer. Instead, Vick's only responsibility is to be a dependable stopgap, using the players around him to hold the fort until Ben Roethlisberger's injured knee heals. 

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  • Catch rule incites controversy again with maybe the worst example yet

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    They are the basic principles of football: Run and block, throw and catch. The NFL has taken this simple foundation and turned part of it into a debate.

    Viewers have lost the ability to decipher a catch. They might think they know a catch. Eyes might see a catch. But in truth, they don't know what we're seeing until the NFL tells us. After Sunday, it's hard to reach any other conclusion.

    Move over Dez Bryant. Take a back seat, Calvin Johnson. The NFL's most absurd rule has once again made an appearance – and this one might be the worst example yet. If you want another example of the rulebook hurting the on-field product, check out the disallowed Tyler Eifert touchdown in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

    That's the worst "going to the ground" instance you'll ever see. You can bet officials were thanking the football gods when Cincinnati rallied late to beat the Ravens, rendering the touchdown-that-wasn't an irrelevant moment.

    But the video exists, and it's ugly. Even worse than Bryant's overturned catch in last season's playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, albeit without the significant stakes.

  • Trio of NFL players likely to become disgruntled with their current contracts

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 16 days ago

    $155 million.

    That's where the 2016 salary cap could settle – a $12 million bump over this year. There are some NFL sources who speculate that it could be even higher. You can bet that played at least partially into Chancellor trying to move some money up from the back end of the remaining three years on his contract. It's a sound financial double-dipping goal: move contract money from 2017 into 2016, then hope that 2017 ultimately gets ripped up in favor of a new contract.

    While that might upset fans, it's merely a maneuver in a financial system that is fully awash in new television money. And those available salary-cap dollars are only expected to swell going forward: from $123 million in 2013 to $143 million this year, and possibly as high as $155 million in 2016. That's where some league sources believe the cap – the result of a negotiated formula by the NFL and NFL Players Association – could end up next year.

    With that in mind, there are three massive stars that could very well end up going the Chancellor route in a few years – looking at their deals and hoping to get them fine-tuned with multiple years left.

    Among them …

    Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

  • A $114M deal means Suh gets to freelance – to chagrin of Dolphins in need of scapegoat

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    It was a Sunday snapshot in frustration for the Miami Dolphins: watching a solid, workmanlike defensive tackle pay dividends – plugging, hurrying, sacking, dislodging. Defensive linemen get paid for stuff like this. Miami made Ndamukong Suh richer for stuff like this.

    That is why Sunday was so hard. Miami's massive free-agent jewel wasn't doing the damage. Instead, it was his predecessor, Jared Odrick, the defensive tackle whose roster spot became an appetizer gobbled up in Suh's $114 million free-agent contract.

    This is why we're here right now, with debates raging about buyer's remorse only two games (seriously, it's two games) into the season. Odrick diced up the Miami Dolphins' interior line with multiple quarterback hurries, a sack and a forced fumble, and Suh was rendered largely ineffective. The Jacksonville Jaguars walked away with a 23-20 upset, and people are looking for someone to blame. And the Miami Herald helped focus that narrative, with a report that Suh is already freelancing inside the defensive scheme.

  • Among 0-2 Seahawks' issues: Wilson is taking too many hits, ones harder than Rodgers' postgame jab

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 19 days ago

    GREEN BAY, Wis. – Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was given some simple math Sunday night, and he swatted at it. There was no place for it near his locker, under his nameplate or in his face. Within that space, statistics and historical record had another name.

    He knows it's coming now – a firing squad of graphs, probabilities and data suggesting that an 0-2 start is the equivalent of finding your NFL season in a headlock. The media calls it research. Bennett calls it "the propaganda."

    No matter how you want to frame it, it's still a dubious hole: Since playoff expansion in 1990, only 11.7 percent of teams that started the season 0-2 have ended up fighting into the postseason.

    "We're a bunch of percentage beaters," Bennett said. "We're a bunch of guys who are low-round draft picks. We're a bunch of guys that [people said] can't do it. We're definitely percentage beaters. We're not really worried about the percentages that people make up."

  • This stretch can help decide if Cowboys' Tony Romo jumps from good to great

    Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    ARLINGTON, Texas – In the suite area of AT&T Stadium, where the highest rollers perch to watch the Forbes-topping $4 billion Dallas Cowboys, there is an impossible-to-miss homage to Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

    It comes in an almost floor-to-ceiling photo, featuring team owner Jerry Jones locked in an intimate conversation with Aikman in the Dallas locker room. The eye-to-eye photo feels dramatic, with Aikman tucking in his pristine white jersey while Jones talks and holds his hands as if he's going over a last-minute detail. It's one of many images of past glories that orbit the stadium, an oval path walled in with championship memories. Designed to elicit emotions in visitors, it also delivers a message.

    Despite that fairly weighty reality ahead, the Cowboys' brain trust seemed remarkably calm after Romo's come-from-behind victory Sunday night.

    "[This] shows you his competitiveness," Jones said Sunday. "It was as loud and clear as I've ever seen it."