The 2nd Level

Ed Thompson takes you to "The 2nd Level" with a deeper look at Dwight Freeney, Mike Vanderjagt, Joseph Jefferson, Keith O'Neil, Rob Morris, and why Tom Brady doesn't deserve MVP consideration.

In this week's "2nd Level" look at some of the Colts, I even included one New England Patriot and a future draft pick. You'll quickly understand why I'm breaking a precedent and taking the time to do some deeper analysis on a Patriots player. The superficial analysis I ran across this week by a voting member of the media in regards to Tom Brady and the league MVP award just left me dumbfounded. It needed a rebuttal. With facts. So here we go...

  • Peter King at said he planned to vote for Brady for league MVP. His picks, he said, if he could rank his top five would be Tom Brady, Tiki Barber, Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander, Carson Palmer. He states that he thinks Brady should get it "...because he refused to let this team die in the wake of all the injuries." Well, let's hope the other 49 voters have better sense than that. Brady's not even amongst the top five quarterbacks in the NFL in the quarterback rating statistic. King is overlooking the fact that New England got eight of their ten wins by beating teams who didn't finish the year with a winning record. That was more influential in their ability to stay alive than Brady's efforts. Want more proof? King's supposed MVP was 2-5 against teams that finished better than 8-8 this season. Shouldn't an MVP be able to do a bit better than that against above average teams? I think so. There are decent arguments to be made for Barber and Alexander, but Brady? Not even close.

  • Just so you don't think I'm a Peter King-basher, let me point out something else he mentioned in his column on Monday that was an astute observation in regards to the Houston Texans and their consideration of USC running back Reggie Bush as their first-round draft pick. King made a very good point that Bush may not be the savior of the franchise unless the Texans shop the pick around and get some gaudy compensation in the process. 

    "It's been 48 years since a running back picked No. 1 overall helped that team win an NFL championship." he wrote. "Not since Paul Hornung was chosen first by the Green Bay Packers in 1957 (actually on Nov. 27, 1956) has a back won a championship with the team that drafted him."

  • Dwight Freeney avoided having his "worst" sack production of his four-year career when he was credited with half a sack along with Raheem Brock on Sunday. Freeney finished the season with eleven, matching his second-year performance. He had 13 as a rookie and 16 last year for a grand total of 51 to date. He also forced six fumbles this year, second-best only to his rookie season when he was credited with nine.

  • Okay, by now you've likely heard over and over that Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie drop-kicked an extra point on Sunday, becoming the first player since 1941 to successfully execute that feat. Okay, I know you are probably sitting there totally disgusted that I just mentioned a second Patriots player in this column. But for Colts fans, here's an interesting side note to the story. Flutie mentioned that he's been having fun practicing the drop kick for many years now, beginning in the days when a current Colt was a teammate of his. "When I was with (Indianapolis Colts kicker) Mike Vanderjagt, in our days up in Canada, that used to be our pregame ritual," Flutie told reporters after the game. So now I wonder if Vandy will start lobbying Tony Dungy to let him do one if the Colts end up hosting the Patriots during the playoffs and get a decent lead? Wouldn't that be just a little fun to see Bill Belichick's reaction?

  • Speaking of Vanderjagt, he finished the regular season converting 23 out of 25 opportunities (92%). That's only the third time in his eight-year career that he's surpassed the 90% mark. He now has a career average of 87.5%.

  • What a bizarre year Rob Morris has had. He can't find another team willing to sign him, so he agrees to return to the Colts for the minimum and tries to get his job back at middle linebacker. With Gary Brackett firmly entrenched and playing well, Morris settles in to a special teams role and excels, particularly on kickoff return coverage. Then, he misses some time due to a weird inner ear virus that throws off his equilibrium. He returns and picks up where he left off, and then even gets to play some defense in mop-up duty at the end of the season. And he gets the first fumble recovery of his six-year career on a play that helps the team set a franchise record with 14 wins in a season. Morris has forced two fumbles during his career, but had never recovered one in 82 regular season games.

  • I'm not sure what the Dallas Cowboys were thinking when they cut LB Keith O'Neil at the end of training camp. But I'm really glad someone in the Colts organization had the intelligence to grab him when he hit the waiver wire. After finishing in the top three for special teams tackles in both his rookie and second-year campaigns, O'Neil has picked up right where he left off. But this time it's with the Colts. In ten games this year, the Colts credited him with eighteen special teams tackles and a forced fumble. And get this. During the last 12 minutes of the game earlier this year against the Titans, he was credited with seven solo tackles. And against the Cardinals on Sunday the Colts gave him credit for eight more ( credited him with ten). The Colts only signed him to a one-year deal, but he will be a restricted free agent so they will have some leverage in keeping him.

  • Recently Mike Chappell at the Indianapolis Star responded to a question from a fan about Colts defensive back Joseph Jefferson and whether or not his addition to the injured reserve list was end of his career as a Colt. "I hope the Colts give him another shot and bring him back to training camp next summer," said Chappell, noting Jefferson's talent potential. I read that and couldn't help wondering if Chappell would be as anxious to give Jefferson another shot at making the roster if he was the owner who's paid Jefferson while he missed 36 regular season games over four seasons. That's like having an employee who's only healthy enough to work 44% of the time while you're giving him a full paycheck. This year, Jefferson saw action in just five games due to turf toe and a knee injury -- and drew a $656,000 salary during that stretch. He's a free agent at the end of this season, and the Colts have done just fine without him on the field. He's certainly got the talent to play at the NFL level capably. But with Kelvin Hayden, Marlin Jackson and Matt Giordano all gaining a year of experience you'd think the Colts would allow him to explore other options. Otherwise, they could be setting themselves up for another Donald Strickland scenario early next season.

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