Redskins

Colts know restoration project not finished yet

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Colts know restoration project not finished yet

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jim Irsay's decisions seem so logical now.

A year ago, he wanted new blood in the front office and on the sideline. He needed a plan for the future, and he had to clear a spot for a new franchise quarterback to grow, even if it meant cutting Peyton Manning.

Longtime Indianapolis fans and hordes of critics thought Irsay was crazy to turn the page on one of the most successful runs in league history and start completely over. But after one of the most remarkable one-year turnarounds in NFL history, all those moves may prove to be the future model for major rebuilding projects around the league.

``I didn't want to flip it because I like continuity,'' he told The Associated Press this week. ``It was just, it needed to change. No one wanted to see or realize that it was over. But it was over.''

What Irsay could see so clearly then was the sun setting on the Manning era in Indy. If he wanted to give Indianapolis another decade to remember, he had to rebuild while he had the chance.

Buried under salary cap limitations and having to contend with more frequent injuries to aging stars, Irsay knew Indy wasn't just getting older - it was sliding further and further from the Super Bowl. The Colts had gone from 14-2 in their 2009 AFC championship season to 10-6 and a first-round playoff exit in 2010 to 2-14 and the No. 1 overall pick last season.

So in the NFL's version of a blink, Irsay made a clean, abrupt break with the past.

``It was just an incredible year,'' Irsay said. ``It's one of those things that I think 15, 20 years from now, people will look at the way we reorganized our team and what we did and I can see where there might be an owner asking a GM that question about turning it around that fast and the GM will say that's too unrealistic to think about. And I can see the owner saying, `Well, the Colts did it.'''

Duplicating what the Colts did in 2012 may be nearly impossible, though.

After losing coach Chuck Pagano for 12 weeks as he battled leukemia, Indy went 9-3 under interim coach Bruce Arians and made its first playoff appearance without Manning since 1996. The nine-win improvement, to 11-5, was better than all but two teams in NFL history - the 1998 Colts and the 2008 Dolphins, who each won 10 more games than the previous season.

Andrew Luck delivered one of the best rookie seasons by any NFL quarterback and the newcomers produced more combined yards rushing and receiving than any rookie class since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. They did all that with a completely new offense, a shortened offseason program and a quarterback who really only got about two weeks to work with his teammates before training camp opened.

That's why Irsay believes it's only a start.

``I think if you go out and win six games with a rookie quarterback, that's a hell of a year when you're comparing it to Peyton's 3-13 or Cam Newton's 6-10,'' Irsay said. ``Winning 11 games and beating the Texans, who had so much to play for that last week, that was literally like winning a playoff game.''

Irsay knows the team still needs more help protecting Luck and more play-makers on defense. And if general manager Ryan Grigson does as well in this year's draft as last year's and spends wisely in free agency - the Colts are projected to be more than $40 million under the cap - Indy could be a significantly stronger club in 2013.

In some ways, all this is familiar to Irsay.

When he walked off the field at Minnesota in the 1997 season finale, Irsay knew he'd be choosing which of the two presumed franchise quarterbacks available, Manning and Ryan Leaf, he would take with the No. 1 pick. He cleared the way by firing general manager Bill Tobin, coach Lindy Infante and trading Jim Harbaugh, known as Captain Comeback, to Baltimore.

Fourteen years later, Irsay walked off the field in Jacksonville in a familiar predicament. Again he had the No. 1 overall pick and again he was choosing between two presumed franchise quarterbacks, Luck and Robert Griffin III. And again he fired his front office leaders, Bill and Chris Polian, and coach Jim Caldwell, and then let Manning go.

Irsay knew then it was the right thing to do - not the easy thing - no matter what anyone else thought.

``It was a year that took a toll on me. It was terribly emotional with Peyton and everything that went on here,'' Irsay said. ``We just realized it was better for him to go to a veteran team that had won a playoff game and it was better for us to try and get a new era started. We both didn't like it. But we knew it was in the best interests of everyone involved.

``It was unfortunate that the chess board shifted. But I felt it was necessary to start again and really have that total change come about. It was no different than 1998.''

Irsay pleaded with fans to be patient, reminding them that Manning won only three games as a rookie, made the playoffs in his second season, didn't win a playoff until Year 6 and didn't bring home the Lombardi Trophy until after the 2006 season.

Turns out, the Colts didn't need patience.

They just needed Irsay to make the tough calls and stick to his convictions.

``The way the chess board lined up for us couldn't have been worse as (last) season wound down,'' Irsay said. ``I walked out of that locker room in Jacksonville and it just couldn't have been tougher. So when you look back at this season, you take so much pride in what you were able to do. I am just amazed at what we accomplished.''

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After playoff debacle, NFL owners vote to overhaul ability to review pass interference

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After playoff debacle, NFL owners vote to overhaul ability to review pass interference

The NFL owners voted Tuesday evening to approve a rule proposal that will allow for both offensive and defensive pass interference, as well as non-calls, to be able to be subject to review.

The new rule change was passed for 2019 season and will be on a trial basis. Coaches will be able to challenge those specific calls in the first 28 minutes of each half. 

The change was passed with a 31-1 vote in Phoenix Tuesday evening at the Annual League Meeting. The only team to vote against the provision was the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coaches will still have two challenge flags.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who has been the one of the rule change's main advocates since the 2018 NFC Championship Game, was thrilled after the ruling was announced.

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Redskins announce Landon Collins will not take over Sean Taylor’s number after all

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Redskins announce Landon Collins will not take over Sean Taylor’s number after all

When a new player signs or is traded to a team, a lot of hype and speculation come along with it. While discussions about how they'll fit in with a certain scheme and debates over whether the contract was worth it always take center stage, there's another hot-button question that fans, journalists and more like to explore: "What number will they wear?"

After the Redskins signed free agent safety Landon Collins to a six-year deal this offseason, trying to determine what number he would wear became an important discussion point, and on Tuesday the answer was finally revealed by the team's twitter account.

Collins will rock No. 20 for the Redskins, according to a post by the team today. A great deal of the hoopla behind what number the safety would pick revolved around his history with the late Sean Taylor. Collins has always looked up to the Redskins great and wore No. 21 with the New York Giants to honor one of his role models. He even became overwhelmed with emotion when receiving a signed Taylor Jersey from owner Dan Synder following his signing.

So, it seemed that if anyone was going to be the first player to dawn No. 21 in the Burgundy and Gold since Taylor it would be Collins. However, Tuesday put that theory to rest. To some, including former Redskins Clinton Portis, this was the right decision

No. 20 will be the third different number Collins has worn since the beginning of his collegiate career, as he was No. 26 at Alabama. With Adrian Peterson re-signing with Washington, it seems as if the running back will be keeping the number he wore in 2018. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wore No. 20 for the Redskins last season, but the safety is now with the Chicago Bears. 

The post also included the number new quarterback Case Keenum will wear, which will be No. 8. This will be the fourth different number of his NFL career, as he had worn No. 7, No. 17 and No. 4 during his previous stops.

Kevin Hogan was the last Redskins quarterback to wear No. 8. But before him, it was of course Kirk Cousins, who then went to Minnesota to take over Keenum's starting job. I guess it really is a small world after all. 

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