NFL notes: Colts running out of chances

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 PM ET

TORONTO - For the Indianapolis Colts it’s approaching crunch time.

Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars constitutes one of the Colts’ last chances for glory — their penultimate legitimate opportunity to break their goose egg and finally win a football game.

It’s the 10th week of the season and the Colts, at 0-9, are the lone team not to have won a game.

On Sunday they get the 2-6 Jaguars on their home turf. The Colts are 0-4 at home but other than last week’s 31-7 defeat against Atlanta, they have been in contention in games played at Lucas Oil Stadium. Their other losses at home were by eight points against Cleveland, three against the Steelers and four against Kansas City.

It’s been a long, hard fall this season for the Colts.

“Now we’re playing for who is at the bottom of the barrel,” Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said of the game. “It goes to show you how this league is. One year you can be on top, the next year you can be at the bottom. The thing about it is if the Jaguars win, they are going to be 3-6. If we win, we’re going to be 1-9 and we’ll still be at the bottom of the barrel.”

The Jags are coming off their bye week and should be rested.

Still, they have not been much of an offensive threat under rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert who is completing just 45.7% of his passes.

“We’ve struggled on offence this year in our passing game,” Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Everybody is aware of that. We’re going to keep hearing about it until we do something about it to make it better. Right now it’s not very threatening.”

For the Colts to win this game they have to stop the Jags run game which means putting the brakes on running back Maurice Jones-Drew to force Jacksonville to beat them through the air.

On the other side of the coin, the Colts have to get more production out of their quarterback Curtis Painter, who has not gone three games and thrown 90 passes without a touchdown pass.

The Colts are running out of chances. This is one of their best.

WAITING ON OCHOCINCO

In New England, they are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

A few days ago, the Patriots dropped defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The question in the Boston area was when would veteran wide receiver Chad Ochocinco follow Haynesworth out the door.

Apparently, though, Ochocinco’s job is safe, even though he has contributed little to the offensive package.

On the season Ochocinco has made just nine catches for 136 yards and has yet to score a touchdown. But at least Ochocinco remains in the mix.

In last week’s loss to the Giants, quarterback Tom Brady threw his way a season-high five times. However, none of the throws connected and that made it three consecutive games where Ochocinco has not had a reception. Whatever the reason, Brady and Ochocinco are not connecting.

But the Patriots say they haven’t given up on him.

“He’s done some good things, and there are things we need to do a better job of,” Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said of Ochocinco. “Getting him the ball and things like that.”

In past seasons Ochocinco has been widely quoted but in his half season with the Patriots he has remained low key as there hasn’t been anything to talk about.”

The Pats, though, are pleased with his attitude and work habits and the hope is that in practice he and Brady can establish some rapport.

“He’s continued to do a great job in practice in his role that he’s really carved out for himself,” Brady said. “And he’s going to continue to be out there and, hopefully, make a bunch of plays.”

A good time for a breakout would be Sunday night as the Patriots are on the road against the Jets and looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.

LIONS SIGN A BEARS’ INSIDER

One of the bigger matchups this weekend takes place in the Windy City where the hometown Chicago Bears play host to the emerging Detroit Lions.

While it’s a given that the division honours will go to the undefeated Green Bay Packers, the Lions and Bears are battling each other for a wild-card spot.

With that in mind, the Lions are leaving no stone unturned and are making use of all the potential advantages they have on hand.

Back on Oct. 28 the Lions claimed safety Chris Harris after he was cut by the Bears. Now Harris is aiding his new team by sitting in on the quarterbacks’ film-study sessions. They are tapping his brain on what makes the Chicago defence tick,

“Any questions they have or ask — ‘What is this? What is that?’ — I guess I can give them further detail,” Harris said. “Not that they don’t already know. They are very familiar with this team, playing them twice a year and being in the same division.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t believe it’s a big deal and that Harris will be the key to unlocking the Bears defensive scheme. But if Harris can help in any way, why not try and gain some information?

“Obviously, these are two teams that know each other very well,” Schwartz said. “Neither team really tries to trick the other one. I think that there’s not a whole lot that’s going to be gleaned from Chris, or if they grabbed one of our players.”

But in a game that looms this large, why not squeeze everything you can out of him?

EX-COWBOYS COACH WEIGHS IN ON UP-AND-DOWN DALLAS

The Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of an up-and-down season as they have gone 4-4 and are currently in a lose one, win one, lose one, win one streak.

Given that much more was expected of them in the way of consistency, there are plenty of pundits out there willing to offer up suggestions.

Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is one of them and recently he suggested that the ‘Boys would be better served if they had an offensive coordinator and didn’t saddle head coach Jason Garrett with the job, that he already has enough on his plate.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, though, isn’t a fan of what he terms a “walk-around” coach, one without the responsibility for either the defence, as was Wade Phillips, or the offence.

Garrett, however, didn’t take offence at Johnson’s comments.

“I do have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Johnson,” Garrett said. “I had the good fortune of playing for him for two years and have learned a tremendous amount of football from him when he was a head coach, just seeing how he operated. And since then, in many conversations that he and I have had. That could be an opinion he might have and other people might have. But right now, we feel good about the structure we have on our staff and that is what we will do going forward.”

Garrett added that he doesn’t operate in a vacuum.

“I think the biggest thing that we do pretty well is we communicate during the game, and that’s within the offensive staff,” Garrett said. “I also think it’s among all of the guys on the staff. I think our communication is good.”

Especially his message to Johnson.


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