If Colts Want Real Dynasty, Draft Has to be The Way to Get There
When the Polian regime exited Indy, team Owner Jim Irsay let it be known early that whom ever he brought in would be tasked with winning multiple SBs given the fact the team had "lucked up" (No pun intended) in the chance to go from one HOF franchise QB to potentially another with addition of Andrew Luck. Dubbed as the "most NFL ready QB since John Elway" entering the 2012 draft, the kid didn't take long making good on those claims as he would go on to lead a Colts team coming off of a disappointing 2-14 season into the playoffs that no one saw making much of an improvement from their disastrous 2011 campaign. The Colts would go on to make the post season 3 of the 4 next years as well with Luck leading the charge. Yet with the coming of his new "monster deal" pending, question marks regarding how the Colts would be able to surround him with enough talent using limited resources due to the impact of his contract are at the forefront all over again.
One of the biggest regrets Owner Jim Irsay made known was the team's "failure" to win more SBs during the Manning era. Don't let wardrobe fool you. Irsay is as competitive as they come, and wants to win as badly as the most devoted fanatic does. So his disappointment of what the rings he feels were "left on the table" under Manning is more than understandable. That's why he went in the direction he did with hiring a coach like Chuck Pagano. Chuck's mantra of wanting to "build the monster" comes from his (bully) days with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens and Steelers are two of the toughest teams in the NFL, and if the Ravens were in just about any other division in the AFC they would be perennial playoff contenders even more than what they've currently been. All-pro WR Steve Smith upon his arrival in Baltimore shared a quote he read on the wall of the Raven's defensive meeting room that I found very interesting, especially in how it relates to coach Pagano's philosophy:
"Play like a Raven. Baltimore Ravens. We build bullies."
A bully takes your lunch, breaks your spork, and takes your juice. On the field a bully beats you up, and in the game of football that initial battle starts at the game's most critical point of attack: "The line of scrimmage." Both the Steelers and the Ravens are teams known for being strong up front, especially on defense. They've also been teams that are built with the intent of wrecking havoc on opposing QBs consistently. They might not always end up with the best records in at the end of the season, but come playoff time they are built to go on the road and impose their will on whomever they face. In both 2005 and 2009 the Steelers won the SB entering the playoffs as a wildcard. The Ravens won the 2000 SB as well as the 2012 SB as a Wildcard as well. Those accomplishments speak more to the toughness of their division than it does to their regular season records.
Today the AFC North without question is one of the league's toughest divisions in the NFL, with 3 of the 4 teams in that division all being playoff caliber franchises. So what makes both of these franchises so successful? They're both "bullies" in the post season. In order to be a bully, you have to have the kind of players on both sides of the ball who can push their opponents around. Andrew Luck might be a better QB than either Ben Roethlesburger or Joe Flacco, but for the most part both of Roethlesburger and Flacco have been on better teams. You could also say the same thing about Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. I take nothing away from Wilson and his skill set as QB, but when you compare the kind of team that he's been on vs that of Luck, without question Wilson has had the luxury of not having the burden of carrying his team on his shoulders week in and week out. Put Andrew Luck on the Seahawks and I guarantee you that the same critics who dropped him from 85 spots on the "NFL's top 100" due to last season would have him #1 on that list in spite of the year Cam Newton had last season. If the Colts hope to have any success at making good on Irsay's desire to win "multiple SBs" with Luck at the helm, the front office is going to have to build the kind of team that can accomplish that goal via the draft. Quite frankly, this should have been the approach from day one of Luck's career in Indy. Let's hope the latest approach the Colts have shown in this year's draft class is a start of more things to come. At the very least, if the latest additions to the O-line pan out to be what the team intends them to be, the Colts should be a very scary opponent for the 2016 season. From the reports that are coming out of OTA's, it looks like "The Monster" finally has some claws.
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