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Walk On (1/6)



  1. It's no secret that a lot of fans and NFL pundits alike have all fallen in love with Chiefs QB phenom Patrick Mahomes and with "Star Wars" numbers like this who can blame them? For the average fan, this is an easy choice to pick who the winner will be this Saturday between the Chiefs vs Colts matchup. "Just go with the team with the better offense." For the true student of the game who knows how to look beyond the numbers on the surface or the highlight reels plastered on "Sportscenter," it becomes apparent who the real monster in the room is come kickoff. I don't care how fantastic Mahomes and the Chiefs have looked on offense, the Colts are the better team. They are the more balanced team and have a QB who's not only every bit as good as his opponent this weekend, but he also has something that his adversary doesn't have and that's playoff experience. Chiefs fans might not think that matters much come game time, but truth be told history has not been on the side of QBs playing in games in which they are making their playoff debut. You can look at the past two years alone just to get an idea of how teams fared playing in the postseason for the 1st time. Tyrod Taylor and the Bills? L. Jarod Goff and the Rams? L. Mitch Trubisky and the Bears? L. Deshaun Watson and the Texans? L. In fact, the only team to win their 1st playoff game with a QB who didn't have postseason experience was the Jags and Blake Bortles during that span. The Chiefs have arguably the worst defense in the NFL. That doesn't bode well going against a Colts team that can beat you a number of different ways. The Chiefs might have the better offense according to the numbers, but the Colts have the better defense with the better chance of stopping them than they will of stopping us. You saw the Colts bludgeon the Texans, a team that has consistently fielded a top 5 defense for over 10 years this past weekend. The Colts should have an easier time going against the Chiefs pedestrian level D in weather conditions that should favor the Colts as well. This team is built to win games on the road no matter what the elements are (Did I just say that?). Another thing that works in favor of the Colts is the difference in the level of preparation between Luck and Mahomes. When you look at Mahomes it's very easy to get caught up in the on-field theatrics he's known for. Mahomes wins a lot of his matchups with the athletic play from him rolling out of the pocket and extending plays with his legs. This is where Luck is much further along as a QB at this stage of their careers in that Luck knows how to "win" his matchups pre snap. Luck doesn't have to do the things that Mahomes does (Although he can) because he knows how to change the plays at the line of scrimmage in order to create mismatches against the defense before he even snaps the ball. At some point, Mahomes' style of play will eventually catch up with him due to his inability to preread a defense the way great QBs like Luck, Rivers, Ryan, and Rogers do. This truth was illustrated beautifully by Colin Cowherd on "The Herd." Luck is playing at a level that no other QB in the playoffs is at right now (Yes, I said that). There's a reason why this team (The Colts) has won 9 out of the last 10 games. Luck is "Manning" with the best Offensive line in football and a top 5 defense... That's downright scary to the point that it ain't even fair. Can you imagine how many rings the Colts would have during the Manning, Marvin, Reggie, and Edge era if they had the squad that Luck now has at his disposal? Don't worry, you won't have to because you're about to get a front row seat of what that looks like with Luck under center. I said this before the season started and I'm gonna say it again: "This is the best front office and coaching staff the Colts have had EVER..." Worried about the Pats? Don't be. They better win the SB this year because no one is going to be better the Indy over the next ten years. With the best GM in football and over 100 million in salary cap space to add to an already juggernaut of a squad this team is only going to get better and that's bad news for the rest of the NFL baby.
  2. From day one I've been telling Colts fans and pundits who were mad that Colts GM Chris Ballard for not being "active in free agency" that Ballard was the smartest man in the room when it came to building this new and improving Colts roster. He's been on the clock for two years now and that's how far back I've been telling people that the man knows his stuff when it comes to not only properly evaluating talent but also by building a team the right way. From the beginning of the 2018 free agency period (And last year's too), plenty of Colts fans were all calling for Ballard's head when he didn't go on a spending spree with the team having over 52 million dollars in cap space. I, on the other hand, echoed Ballard's sentiments from day one of his preaching of: "You need to grow your own, and build through the draft. "You wanna only use free agency in order to supplement your draft." As we go well into year two of his tenure, Ballard is doing exactly what I said he would: "Proving to everyone that he's the smartest man in the room when it comes to building a team the right way." Say what you want about his offseason gaffe regarding the Josh McDaniels debacle, but even with that I can understand his logic of going after McDaniels because had it gone through he would have killed two birds with one stone by A: making the Colts better while B: weakening a division rival in the process. After gutting the roster (Literally) of Ryan Grigson's multiple draft and FA miscues, Ballard has been stacking the team with top-tier talent. From Malik Hooker to Marlon Mack. Anthony Walker to Grover Stewart. Quinton Nelson to Kemoko Turay. Darius Leonard to Tyquan Lewis. Nyheim Hines to Jordan Wilkins. Follow that with players he's acquired coming out of nowhere like Mo Alie-Cox along with FA castoffs deemed busts like Eric Ebron and Margus Hunt just to name a few and you see the work of a man who has an impeccable eye for talent. Now he hasn't hit on every one of his picks or free agents (See Terrell Basham and Quincy Wilson), but even when it comes to players like Quincy Wilson the jury is still out on them as they continue to learn a new system. All in all, this should come as no surprise to anyone who's actually taken the time to follow Ballard's illustrious career throughout his NFL journey. The man has done this everywhere he's gone, working with and learning from some of the game's best with the resume to prove it. From day one when Jim Irsay started his search for a new GM Chris Ballard was the man I wanted for the job from the beginning. After he was hired I began telling people that this was going to go down as one of the best hirings this team has ever had because there was no doubt in my mind that Ballard had the goods to turn this franchise into an elite dynasty as long as he was given the time and freedom to do this his way. Now that the fruits of his labor are starting to produce, Ballard can now look to the 2019 offseason with not only more money to count with but also for turning the Colts into a contender that many FAs on the market won't mind coming to play for. In spite of their current record, I still think this team can compete against the AFC's best and if the defense can rediscover the mojo they had towards the beginning of the season this is easily a SB team because no one is stopping the offense. Yes I said it. NO ONE. When you have the kind of offensive line and weapons that the Colts have with not only a franchise QB like Luck running it but also a HC who is as innovative as they come in Frank Reich to pair Luck with the sky is virtually the limit.
  3. The Cowboys just added Amari Cooper, the player most Indy fans wanted to see come here and play for the horseshoe, and he apparently is one of many available players in John Gruden's "Raiders firesale" currently underway. Given the recent play and rash of injuries to the WR position in Indy who could blame Colts fans for being upset that Chris Ballard didn't go after him or Dez Bryant? Once again, I'm with team Ballard on this one due to the fact that Oakland's asking price was too much even for a WR of Cooper's caliber. Ditto on Dez who's baggage weighed more than the talent he would bring to the table. I know you're asking: "Well who would you go after then if not those two?" I'm glad you asked. Given the needs of both teams, the most willing dance partner for the Colts might be the Arizona Cardinals who have a Patrick Peterson problem right now. Peterson wants out of Arizona and has requested to be traded, preferably to the Saints. Nevermind that. I think he wouldn't mind playing for the Colts at the prospect of being given the opportunity to play with a bonified franchise QB for the 1st time in his career. The Colts need a shutdown corner and guess what? the Cards need a QB. Enter Jacoby Brissett. I know the Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen but given that there's no guarantee that he'll ever become the franchise QB they need him to be, it wouldn't hurt to have a QB like Brissett who at the very least would be a damn good insurance policy if he doesn't. This is a trade that could be made straight up given the fact that teams have been inquiring about Brissett since training camp. Look, I am just as big a fan of Brissett as most Colts fans around here, but truth be told he is just too good of QB to be standing on the sidelines. Although the selfish side of me doesn't want to see him go, I also don't want to see someone as talented as he is spend his career as a backup on a team where he most likely won't be given a chance to shine. This is a win-win situation for both teams. The Cardinals would get a damn good player at a position of need and the Colts would get the same. Peterson would absolutely kill it in this system and would transform the Colts D the same way Kahlil Mack is for the Bears now, and like Mack you can plug him in from day one & forget about it because the rest is history.
  4. Remember when I told you guys back in the offseason that the Colts were in good hands with the new staff? I told you that the offense new head coach Frank Reich was bringing with him from Philly would be a perfect match for Luck's skill set. I also mentioned that I thought it would take by week 6 for the defense to come around and based that off of the team having so many young players who would need time to "figure it out" in a new system. Well if the first two games are any indication, the defense might not be far behind the offense. This young bunch of "I don't know any betters" spear-headed by the emergence of standout rookie LB Darius "The Maniac" Leonard has been nothing short of flat out amazing. When you compare this group to previous ones, the one thing that stands out immediately is the overall speed of the defense. I don't think I've ever seen a Colts team this fast from a trenches standpoint. I watched the game against the Redskins this weekend and couldn't help noticing how quickly the D-linemen shot of the ball and wrecked havoc on a Skins O-line that was predicted by many to man-handle the Colts to the tune of Adrian Peterson going off for 200 yards rushing. AP didn't even sniff 50 for the entire game. He didn't even sniff 30. From Marcus Hunt to Jabaal Sheard Indy's front seven was a force to be reckoned with all game. One guy who has been overlooked though has been the surprising play of Hassan Ridgeway. Ridgeway was a monster until he injured a calf in the 2nd quarter. I counted numerous plays where he fired of the ball so fast that he was literally in the backfield at the same time Alex Smith was handing the ball off (When's the last time you saw that from a Colts defense?). The surprising play from the defense this early can only be accredited to two things: 1) Chris Ballard's eye for talent. and 2) Players being prepared for each game by their coaching staff. It's no secret how I've felt about this coaching staff and from office we now have in Indy. I've said on more than one occasion that before its all said and done this current front office and coaching staff will go down as one of the very best we've ever had here in Indy. In fact, Chris Ballard should lock up Matt Eberflus NOW before the end of the season because there's no doubt in my mind that he will be a hot commodity come this offseason for a HC job and it will probably start after the first game we play against the Jags. I know everyone is on the Jags bandwagon and toting them as being the best team in football right now, especially after the way they beat the Pats last week. I, however, am not that impressed with them because I will never be a believer in Blake Bortles. He will only thrive in games where he is not required to carry his team on his shoulders. As long as you can stop the run and limit your turnovers against the Jags D, they are very beatable. I don't care what Bortles did last week against NE because I predicted the Pats will slide this year anyway. They really weren't that impressive last year and if we are all honest with ourselves, they haven't been since Darrell Revis was with the team. The Pats have had the luxury of playing in the weakest division in the AFC for well over a decade now and that has played a major factor in their continued "success." That said, the Colts should take a page from NE and do for Eberflus what the Pats did for Josh McDaniels. "Pay him. Pay that man his money." I'm not saying he should get the kind of money that McDaniels is getting, but I am saying at least make the effort to pay him enough to at least make him think about staying. Continuity is so important in this league especially when it comes to the coaching staff, or in the Colts' case keeping what could be one of the best staffs in the game intact for the long haul. I know it's still very early, but I'm still not backing down from my bold predictions for this year's Colts team. I think they will be more than ready to challenge the Jags for the AFC South crown and due to the edge at QB I think we are more than capable of winning it. Unlike most fans, I'm not judging the Jags off of what they did vs the Pats. I judge them off of how they looked vs an offensively inept Giants team led by an over the hill Eli Manning in week one. The Giants are a team the Jags should have dominated, yet escaped with a 5 point win with one of their scores coming from a pick-six by the defense. That doesn't exactly spell "Superbowl" team to me. Mark my words. The Colts will be a force to be reconned with this year and the coaching staff that is now in place will be a big reason why.
  5. Well the Colts now have their man at HC in Former Pats OC Josh McDaniels. Although I admit I had some reservations on this hire even I can't deny the impact his offensive scheme should have with a healthy Andrew Luck and potential studs like Marlon Mack at his disposal. McDaniels is a mastermind in how to properly utilize the screen game, and when you have a suspect line like the Colts currently do, you can cover a lot of those holes with it. That brings us to the up coming draft and which direction the Colts should take between two outstanding talents who at the very least one of whom should be available when the Colts pick at #3 overall. The general consensus around the MSM sports personalities and Colts fans alike is that the Horseshoes should either draft Chubb, or address the O-line to protect 12. I am of the mindset that the team should go in a totally different direction and draft Barkley and here's why. In terms of acquiring players who have the best chance of impacting your team the most, there's no doubt in my mind that Barkley has the better chance to do just that than Chubb would. Now I know that all of the Josh McDaniels fanboys out there will say: "We don't need a guy like Barkley because look at what McDaniels did with Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and James White." My answer to that is 1st off, McDaniels has never had a chance to have a back as dynamic as Barkley at his disposal, and there's a reason why he had to work with not 1, not 2, but 3 RBs for his offense: "All of them are just dudes" while Barkley is "the guy." The important thing to note here is that there's a difference between the type of RBs the Pats have been using vs that the caliber of Saquon Barkley. All of the backs the Pats have been using are 5,10, and occasionally (Key word: Occasionally) 15-20 yard "safety valve/dump off" guys. Barkley is a "68 and out the gate" guy... Let that sink in for a moment. I'll use one play from last weekend's SB for an example. Remember the screen play in the second qtr to Rex Burkhead that went for 46 yards that he was run down from behind on? Insert Barkley on that same play and its a TD. You aren't running Barkley down from behind once he gets into the open field and even if you do, at 230 lbs with 4.3 speed good luck bringing him down. NE's RBs are not guys you have to "game plan" for. Barkley on the other hand is the kind of talent you have to account for no matter where he is on the field. Not only does he provide a lethal weapon for McDaniels to terrorize defenses with, he also makes your O-line look better than it really is. That also protects your QB because as long as opponents have to account for Barkley, they can't pin their ears back and T-off on Luck. This also improves your defense because not only will they not be on the field as much, the pressure their opponents will be under in order to try and keep up with the Colts offense will keep them in high stakes situations. If you want proof of that you need look no further than this year's SB. The Pats just made it to yet another SB appearance with a defense in the opinion of many (Mine included) to be down right atrocious. Sorry Lions fans, but Matt Patricia is no "defensive guru" and I predict that the honey moon in Detroit will not only be short lived, but also Patricia will be added to the list of Patriot coaching castoffs who failed once they left BB. Still, the Pats made it to the SB in spite of their porous defense and if you take a look at history as well as factor in the way the league has been consistently catering to the offensive side of the ball in terms of officiating, the smart thing to do as far as building a team would be to take advantage of that by putting the most formidable offense that you possibly can together on the field. In terms of history, even before many of the league's rule changes for today's game, teams that were stacked on offense fared better in going deep into the playoffs vs teams with good defenses while suspect on the other side of the ball did. Look at the Niners of Steve Young's era, the Bills under Kelly, the Broncos with Elway, and the Rams of the late 90s early 2000's. Ladies & gentlemen the jury is in. Saquon Barkley without a doubt would impact the Colts much more than Bradley Chubb would, and when you look at the likely scenario that the Colts will be moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense there's a very real possibility that the pass rusher the Colts need is already on the team in Terrell Basham. I'm not ready to "give up" on the young guys from last year's draft, and as bad as the former coaching staff was from a player's developmental standpoint, there's only one direction those same players can go in with the new regime that's coming in: "up."
  6. Bleacher report just put out a story claiming that an "unknown scout" alleging the Colts are taking a hard look at Joe Mixon. I know this story probably has Indy's "conservative" fanbase up in arms over the thought of taking a player with Mixon's "checkered history"- many of whom instead are crying for the team to go "defense! defense! defense!" As I stated in a post I did a few weeks ago, Mixon is not only a 1st round talent, he's the best all around back coming out of college this year. If you've watched any of his tape, you won't have to wait long before his skill set "pops out" at you. The kid is special with the rock in his hands, and no-I'm not talking about his punch against Miss Molitor either for all of you "holier than thou-goodie two shoe saints" out there. All that said, I would love to see the Colts address the defense early like everyone else, but if Mixon falls to us and the Colts take him I won't lose any sleep over him coming here and would welcome him with open arms. I can also tell you one thing, one team out there has their radar on him besides the Colts and that's the Patriots. Forget about the story of them putting the league on notice that they've "taken him off their draft board." Knowing Belichek and his antics, this was nothing more than a smoke screen to throw everyone else off their trail for what they really want to do with him. By allegedly taking Mixon of their board the Pats will influence all of the other teams out there who want to mimic the "Patriot way" of doing things to follow suit by removing Mixon from their board as well. This in turn will give the Pats a "Bee line" to Mixon. For all of you naysayers out there who don't think Belichek would take a guy like Mixon remember Aaron Hernandez was no saint before he became a Patriot. In fact, his past had more red flags than Mixon's did long before the murder charges. So that being said, if you think for one second that the Pats won't take a player of Mixon's talent you're fooling yourself. As bad as Mixon's video of him punching a woman was, he didn't kill anyone. He's never been a gang member. He's never sold drugs either. If indeed other teams have taken Mixon off their draft board because the Pats did Belichek will prove to be the smartest person in the room again on draft day by taking Mixon. Also, forget about the reports of Brady being able to (play at the level he's been playing at until he's 45). Brady doesn't throw the ball down the field anymore and has been nothing but a system QB who has the benefit of playing on a team that doesn't get penalized for running pick plays. Brady's game is throwing 10-15 yard ins and outs for a reason. He doesn't have the arm strength that he once had and adding Brandon Cooks in the offseason isn't going to fix that. The Pats need a young RB for the future as bad as the Colts do. Belichek knows this and also knows he needs to surround Brady with as many weapons as possible to compensate for his QB's declining skill set due to father time. When it comes to Mixon, too many people are putting way too much negativity into an incident that happened 3 years ago. If we are going to hold something like this against him then we should all have things we've done in our past held against us as well. I can guarantee you that there's not a fan out there who hasn't done "something" in this world that's not in good taste. No, you might not have hit a woman, but you've done something. I'm even willing to bet that if the skeletons in your closet were out on display for the world to see a lot of you would be scattering like roaches whenever the lights come on. For those of you who keep clamoring for Christian McCaffrey just stop it. His talent is nowhere near that of Mixon's and no, he's not a franchise back. McCaffrey is a good RB. He's not a "great" RB and is not going to be one at the next level either. Can he help a team? Sure. He can help the right team. He's not a franchise RB though so stop right there. Joe Mixon is going to have the kind of impact on the league that Randy Moss did, and every team that passed up the chance to get him are going to regret it. It would be a shame to see him go to a shady organization like NE and become a rock star when so many will have the chance to get him when he falls in their lap 1st.
  7. With the 2017 draft quickly approaching, everyone (Especially Colts fans) has an idea of what areas the front office should address first. Most opinions fall on the defensive side of the ball since that was clearly the team's biggest problem not only last year, but for the past several to be fair. That's understandable. However, if the Colts went in a completely different direction and drafted say, a RB does that mean the Colts won't be able to address the holes in their defense? Let's explore the possibilities of that for second. Contrary to popular belief, drafting a RB with the 14th overall pick wouldn't exactly spell "Phillip Dorsett" all over again. While a lot of Colts fans would probably be disappointed with the selection, this in no way shape or form would be a disastrous thing to do, especially with the available talent that will be there when the Colts are on the clock. Let's take a trip down memory lane, 1999 to be exact. Die-hard Colts fans should remember that year forever since we witnessed the birth of the "triplets." That was the year the team drafted Edgerrin James. The Colts went from 3-13 to 13-3 as James's presence provided balance to a Colts offense that would ultimately take them to another level. James took a lot of pressure off of Peyton Manning because he was a threat to take it to the house at any given moment. When you give a QB of Manning's caliber (Or Luck for that matter) a running game that opponents have to respect it opens up the field in ways that make it darn near impossible for the opposition to stop. The byproduct of that is that great offenses can also make mediocre defenses look "un-mediocre." A lot of people also forget that as good as Kurt Warner was in his 1st two years with the Rams, "The Greatest Show on Turf's" most important player was not their Cinderella storied QB. It was RB Marshall Faulk. Faulk was the glue that made that offense as prolific as it was because he was such a dynamic threat as both a runner and wr out of the backfield. Still not convinced? How about Terrell Davis and John Elway? For all of Elway's masterful brilliance as one of the best QBs to ever play the game, he didn't win a SB until the Broncos front office gave him a true all around RB to play with. By adding a viable RB to the Colts backfield not only are you adding a home-run threat to Indy's backfield, but you're also addressing the team's future successor to Gore. At 14 the Colts will have their pick of some really good backs, and since it's highly unlikely that the kind of defensive day one difference maker will be available when the Colts are on the clock the smart choice would be to take one of the top RBs, especially if someone like Joe Mixon or Dalvin Cook is still on the board. Mixon in particular will probably fall due to character issues, but remembering what GM Chris Ballard said about drafting rookies that "pop off the tape consistently," Mixon definitely does just that. If not for his 2014 assault incident, Mixon would be in the top 2 conversation as the best RB prospect coming out of college. His size, speed and vision are rare combinations, reminiscent of Adrian Peterson except with better hands. I know he probably won't be drafted in the 1st round but if there's any chance the Colts can get him in the second, all reasonable options should be considered. All that said, does that mean the Colts don't get their defense fixed by drafting another weapon for Andrew Luck? The short and long answer is "No" it doesn't. What a lot of people seem to forget is that the Colts have over 50 million in cap space. With that kind of cheddar they can go "Costco" on ya via free-agency. I've said this before and will say it again. You don't draft a defensive player 1-15 unless he's a day one difference maker as a starter. You don't draft "projects" that high. You draft day one starters. If you can't get a starter when you're on the clock that high then you have to go BPA. I know some fans will ask: "But what about protecting Luck with drafting another O-lineman?" Again, if you can't get a day one difference maker even at that position are you really addressing it, especially since there's no guarantee that said player will ever develop into a starter? If the Colts do indeed draft a RB not only are the probable impact possibilities greater at RB, but adding a versatile threat to the backfield would not only add more juice to the offense, but even that would protect Luck better because teams won't be able to tee off and focus solely on him. Make no mistake, I'm not saying that my formula is the only one that's correct out there. Still, I have a hunch that the team's new GM will utilize free agency to fill more holes than many might expect, and that's regardless of the references he made regarding the draft at his introduction about "Growing your own." At any rate this should be an interesting off-season. One I think many of us can't wait to get underway.
  8. Andrew Luck is the new 140 Million dollar man and highest paid player in the NFL. His new contract extension has raised a lot of eyebrows around the NFL. Even before his massive new deal, Andrew Luck has had his fair share of critics throughout his short NFL career, many of whom stem from the sheer amount of hype that surrounded him from his days as the top QB in the nation at Stanford. The way scouts and NFL personalities around the league drooled over everything he did from throwing passes into the wind to simply tying his shoes both polarized him as well as brought out criticism (No matter how unfairly) from people who I can only imagine were just sick of hearing his name. Some NFL players even went on record to say in so many words that Luck wasn't the best QB in his draft class. Broncos standout CB Chris Harris is one of those players, and said in a post game interview on the heels of a 26-20 overtime loss to the Seahawks,that Wilson is a better QB than Luck. Luck has been under fire and unfairly criticized for his play last season. Most of the negative opinions have been misguided at best because there are several contributing factors that weren't taken into account as to why he had such a bad year, like the fact that he has been playing behind one of the worst O-lines in the league ever since he arrived. That gamble by the front office finally backfired on them last season as Luck missed the majority of the season with an assortment of injuries. Although at times when he did play he was a turnover machine, he also didn't have the kind of running game or defense that Russell Wilson has in Seattle either. For all of the adulation thrown Wilson's way, the fact that he hasn't been in a situation where he needs to carry the team on his back by himself gets lost in translation. Lets be honest here. The Seahawks have been a well oiled machine from the moment Wilson arrived and had enough pieces already in place to be a force regardless of who their QB was. Luck hasn't had that luxury and therefore it's unfair to judge him off of what Wilson has been able to accomplish during their time in the league when Luck hasn't had the same level of talent to work with that Wilson has. I know some will make the argument that Wilson plays in a tougher division and that by contrast Luck has had the benefit of playing in what many view as the weakest division in football. Still, Luck has beaten the best teams in the league when facing stiffer competition with the only team he hasn't cracked the code yet being the Pats. Outsiders have even gone as far as to say the Texans will win the AFC South this year with the addition of Brock Osweiler. I for one am sticking to my guns and saying that if the Colts O-line is improved, not only will they be able to play with anyone, but will also be a SB caliber team. Recognizing the importance of having a capable O-line is paramount to becoming an elite team in the NFL. The league has a long standing history of this simple rule of thumb. The Steelers of the and Bears of the 80s. The Cowboys, 49ers and Giants of the 90s. All of these teams had offensive lines that could protect them along with the running game to back them up as a bye product of the talent they had up front to play with. When you have an elite QB to play with an above average O-line, that puts you head and shoulders above the competition that can't match you in those two categories. The Colts are going to surprise a lot of people this year. Luck and his new O-line will be the main reasons why.
  9. The Colts haven't played a single down yet in 2016, yet that hasn't stopped some of their biggest critics from making predictions on how they think the Colts will finish this season. Some critics use last season's failures on a team as a projection of how it will do the following season (For whatever reason I don't know why). In the case of the Colts, it seems that a lot of those critics are bumpin the horns of our AFC South rivals because of their offseason moves; with the majority of them jumping on the Texans bandwagon. Like most Colts fans, I don't think Brock Osweiler has done enough in this league to make me think that he's the "missing link" for Houston. Let's be honest here. We're talking about a guy when given the chance, couldn't make enough of an impression on the Broncos coaches to give him the reins for the rest of the season over a broken down Peyton Manning who was practically a half step away from playing in a wheel chair, with the best defense in the league... Osweiler might be the QB Houston's been waiting for. He might also be a game manager who's a step above anything they've had at the position ever since their existence. In spite of how he turns out one thing can't be mistaken; Luck is still the best QB in the division. Period. That in and of itself could be enough to be the difference between where any of the Colts division rivals finish this season. At least that assumption can be backed up by the fact that with Luck healthy for a full season the Colts have finished at the top of the AFC South. That brings us to one Heath Evans of "NFL Now." According to Evans, the Colts not only won't compete in the AFC South, he doesn't even think it will be close: Now anyone who's not only followed the Colts, but also follows this game knows how important your offensive line is, especially when it comes to protecting your most valuable player on the team. If you look at the long list of some of the greatest QBs who've ever played the game you'll notice that all of the one's that have won multiple SBs also played behind solid O-lines. The presence of those O-lines not only opened up doors for their respective QBs to do well, but also provided lanes for the running game. It's no secret (apparently to everyone not named Heath Evans) that the Colts biggest issues over the past 4 years have been the lack of running game and the inability to protect Andrew Luck (Guess what we can attribute both of those problems to?). The lack of talent on the offensive line has had a trickle down effect on the rest of the team. The offense's inability to consistently move the ball on the ground hurt both the passing game as well as the defense. When your defense has to go right back on the field due to either turnovers or the offense continually having to punt, they stop performing at their best as fatigue sets in. So while NFL personalities like Heath Evans might think that the offseason moves by the Colts was "nothing to get excited about," even the average football fan can acknowledge the impact of what having a good O-line can do for you. Even though a lot of Colts fans might be upset at Evan's assessment, keep in mind that whenever you see material from analysts like Heath that seemingly come in practically out of nowhere from left field with absolutely no basis for validity, they are nothing more than than opinions intended for one purpose and one purpose only: "Shock value." Like Skip Bayless, even Heath doesn't believe the nonsense that he just predicted regarding the Colts. In fact, instead of adding any juice to their claims by clicking on their articles (or videos), there's a better way to get them to tell you how they "really" feel about the Colts. Write them a letter and tell them to put their money where their mouth is. If you bet Heath Evans $50,000 I guarantee you he won't take the bet, and the fact that he won't take the bet will prove how much he doesn't believe his own predictions.
  10. 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: 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.
  11. Let's take a trip back down memory lane. Remember when Bill Polian was the Colts GM? His first pick was a no brainer in picking "some guy" out Tennessee to play QB who would later go on to be one of he game's best ever at the position. Not many were picking Peyton Manning to slip by the Colts even with all the hype surrounding Ryan Leaf (Remember him?) as the only QB who was constantly mentioned along side his leading up to that infamous 98 draft. No, what Bill Polian and his staff did the following year is what gave a shining example of how a good GM earns his paycheck when they chose unknown commodity from "The U" in RB Edgerrin James. For those who don't remember, Ricky Williams was viewed as the "best RB in the draft" according to everyone, except those camped on West 56th street. The "nashing of the teeth" and "dismay" of Indy fans was short lived as it didn't take long for them to see how special James was as both a RB and WR out of the backfield. Another "under the radar" pick was a little known Safety out of Iowa in Bob Sanders. Drafted in the 2rd round, Sanders would go on and earn a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the game, and one of its most feared. The only drawback on Sanders was his inability to stay healthy. Even more impressive was 5th round draft pick Rober Mathis. We all know how he turned out. All 4 of these picks were great examples of GMs earning their money in the war room of the NFL draft as they would all go on to become cornerstones of the franchise for years to come. 2015 is a year many of us would like to forget with regard to the Colts as it was one riddled with injuries to a squad that basically underachieved given the talent that it had available, especially on the offensive side of the ball. When the Colts front office selected Phillip Dorsett with the 29th overrall pick in the draft, in spite of the surprise to many, the overall perception from critics and analysts alike was that at the very least the Colts would be an offensive Juggernaut as Dorsett would only add to an embarrassment of riches QB Andrew Luck would have at his already potent disposal of weapons. that never materialized because the Colts had a more vital position that wasn't properly addressed: "The Offensive line." Andrew Luck not only got hurt, but also missed games for the 1st time in his young NFL career because of it. Time and time again we've all heard the coaches say "We are going to build monster on W 56th street." When you think of a monster, you think of a team that's a "bully" on both sides of the ball. A team that beats you up and out physicals you with a punishing running game on offense and a front seven that get's after the opposing team's QB on defense. A bully is a team that dominates the line of scrimmage and wins consistently in the trenches. When you look at the history of past SB winners, there's a reason why you see teams like the Steelers, Ravens, 49ers, Cowboys and even the current Seahawks consistently as either winners of multiple championships, or in the biggest games of the season come playoff time. All of those teams carry the same physical traits mentioned previously. They also prove another valuable point of reference: "When you have a franchise QB you don't have to surround him with 1st round talent at every skill position in order for him to be successful." A QB like Andrew Luck doesn't need A-1 talent at WR for him to be effective. Heck, look at what Cam Newton is doing in Carolina with the likes of Ted Ginn Jr. For those of you who missed that, Ted Ginn Jr is Carolina's #1 WR, and the Panthers are in the NFCCG... When you have a franchise QBs make the talent around them better. We've seen Manning do this many times when he was here in Indy during seasons like 2010 in with Blair White and Taj Smith filling in for an injured Marvin Harrison. Manning elevated the play of talent around him and led the Colts to a 10-6 record en-route to the playoffs. You can argue that the Colts had sub par competition from playing in the AFC South, but that still doesn't excuse the approach that should be used in building the current roster. As I said before, Andrew Luck doesn't need the best WRs money can buy in order to make the Colts a championship caliber team. All he needs is a team that's built to win the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball. If you give Andrew Luck a the very least a top 10-15 defense with an o-line that can keep him clean, the Colts will be in the conversation for deep playoff runs for years to come. If you give Luck o-line that can no only protect him, but also a defense better than top 10, you've got a dynasty.
  12. From the moment Irsay let Future Hall of Famer and fan favorite Peyton Manning walk into free agency, the mercurial Colts team owner has had his sites on outdoing the accomplishments the team made with Manning under center. Irsay's been on record in saying that he felt the team should have won multiple championships during the Manning era, but failed to do so because of the way his team was structured. In placing 90% of the team's success squarely on the shoulder's of it's star QB the Colts won more games over a decade than most other franchises could only dream of. Although that approach seemed to work during the regular season, it all amounted to nothing in the playoffs as the Colts were consistently man-handled by teams like the Pats, Steelers, and Chargers. These three teams shared the same formula for success: "A stout defense, strong running game, and steady QB play. After Irsay made comments on how he expects the Colts to win at least two Superbowls with Luck under center you would think that the #1 priority going into this year's draft would be to address the teams biggest need: "The defense." That's why the selection of Phillip Dorsett was so surprising to most fans and sports personalities alike. Although the Dorsett pick may very well be "insurance" against the possible free agent departure of stud T.Y. Hilton, GM Ryan Grigson may regret choosing not to trust the available talent he already has on the roster who in the eyes of many feel could more than capably fill the hole that Hilton most assuredly would leave behind. I've said before in conversations that when you have a top notch QB the caliber of an Andrew Luck, you don't have to surround him with "home run" players at every possible position. Players like Luck have the ability to make those around him better, especially when you have a scheme that can take advantage of it's opponents on game day. One of the best examples of this I like to use is the 2000 Ravens, one of the best defensive teams to ever step on the field. That team was able to win a Superbowl with mediocre play from the QB position. Trent Dilfer was never asked to "win the game" for the Ravens. His job was to manage it by simply moving the chains and not turning the ball over. Dilfer didn't have anything special to write home about at the WR position. In fact the only consistent threat he had on that side of the ball was TE Shannon Sharpe and RB Jamal Lewis. Think for a second how many rings that team would have won if Luck was under center. Can you imagine the possibilities? If the Colts would've taken this approach from the beginning of Luck's career, primarily year two of his campaign this team at the very least would not resemble the one that's been man-handled by opponents like the Pats. Instead of making this team more like previous offensive juggernauts like the Manning-led Colts squads or the Rams of the Kurt Warner era, it simply needs to be more like the "Cardiac Kids" of 95. That team was led by QB Jim Harbaugh, a punishing one-two punch at RB with Lamont Warren and Zack Crockett, and backed up by a top 5 defense that was one of the league's best kept secrets all year long. Jim Harbaugh is not the QB that Andrew Luck is by any stretch, but with the pieces that were in place around him, he didn't have to be. Same goes for Jim McMahon of the 85 Bears. Even though that team only won one SB under McMahon, that was due more to the coaching staff not knowing how to maximize the talent they had at their disposal than it did with the QB under center. Jim McMahon isn't Luck either, but the point I'm making with all this is that you don't need to surround a QB who's above average with exceptional talent at the skill position in order to be successful at the highest level. Just give him a team that can be a bully in the post season. Give him a team that can run the ball when it wants to, stop the run when it needs to, and pressure the QB when it has to. Those are the true ingredients of a championship pedigree. If Luck is ever given that kind of team, the Colts will win a lot more than "2 Superbowls." Luck is good enough to bring home 4 or more when it's all said and done. If he doesn't, then Irsay will have come up short again with another franchise QB at his disposal.
  13. As we inch closer to the start of the 2015 season, the NFL finds itself at the center of yet another scandal. It's safe to say the 2014 season was not a good look for the NFL. From the mishandling of Ray Rice's and Greg Hardy's domestic violence cases to the infamous "Deflate Gate," the NFL has been a den full of mishaps. All of this has been happening under the watch of current commissioner Roger Goodell. While it seems that most of the owners have been happy with his job thus far, some within NFL circles haven't been pleased with many of the latest scandals that he's obviously mishandled. According to a report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, at least one official has spoken up about it, pointing out the fact that the league had a chance to stop Deflate Gate well before it happened: "As one league source with no connection to the present controversy explained it to PFT in January, past Commissioners like Paul Tagliabue would have informed the Patriots of the situation," wrote Florio. "[Tagliabue would have] warned them that the NFL is paying attention, that the league reserves the right to check the air pressure in the footballs during the game, and that any funny business would be met with a decidedly unfunny reaction from the league office." This official, who spoke anonymously given his position and the sensitivity of the subject sheds light on a problem that has been going on for quite some time now. In fact, we can go on to say that the NFL's lack of accountability has become a serious problem since the beginning of Goodell's tenure as commissioner. This is even more evident given how Well's "report" from the Deflate Gate investigation comes out "after" the draft when we all know the league had this information well in advance and could have dealt out punishment to the Patriots before the draft, possibly taking some of their picks away. Richard Sherman stated last year that the "NFL has a conflict of interest" between Goodell and his "friendship" with some of the owners, Robert Craft in particular. "Will they be punished? Probably not," Sherman said. "Not as long as [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell and [Patriots owner] Robert Kraft are still taking pictures at their respective homes..." -Richard Sherman It's no secret that many around the league feel that not much will come of these latest allegations against the Patriots in terms of a viable punishment, and with the growing sentiment that there's a lack of accountability between the NFL with regard to punishing owners in the same manner that players are punished (see time frame of when the results of Deflate Gate were released vs that dealt to players) this will only increase the probability of teams taking up the "Patriot way" of obtaining a championship. "If you're not cheating your not trying." Who can blame them? If you can win the big one by cheating or manipulating the rules without getting the ultimate prize taken from you why not? The only way to put an end to all this ridiculous nonsense is to adopt the system of punishment seen at the college level. In College teams who are caught doing anything illegal of the magnitude oN what we see in the NFL lose their championship. Depending on the situation some may even lose scholarships of top recruits. I guarantee if you take away a ring from the Pats you will never see them or any other team for that matter "cheat" again. The fact that the league saw fit to make a rule change regarding their abuse of the "eligible/ineligible" Wr rules is just the latest fiasco in how the Patriots have yet again found themselves at the center of controversy. No team in the history of the game has been more responsible for changing the face of the NFL than NE has, and I don't mean in a good way either. It's time for the madness to stop. If the league has any "integrity" whatsoever, they should strip the Pats of their latest trophy and suspend Brady for at least 5 games. That's the right message to send to an organization that is not a "1st time offender."
  14. In a previous article I covered the Colts 1st round selection of Phillip Dorsett and offered my analogy behind the purpose of why the front office took him over addressing more pressing needs, particularly on defense. With players like Landon Collins and Malcom Brown still on the board, the Colts opted for the fleet footed Dorsett to shore up a WR group that in the eyes of many is already loaded. The timing of this pick couldn't be more impeccable when you take in Hilton on the edge of a contract year coming up. Hilton didn't sound too pleased when asked for his thoughts on the pick: “there was nothing he could do about that,” in regards to the pick. He (Hilton) went on to say that “(it was) a pick they thought they needed, so I guess that’s what we needed to help this team." So is it just me, or does anyone else get the feeling that Dorsett was brought on board to "soften the value" of Hilton to either get him to resign at a lower agreement or replace him if Hilton decides to go play for more money elsewhere? When prodded on this subject both Grigson and coach Pagano reiterated that they "stuck to the board" and took the BPA. Come on guys. We weren't born yesterday. It makes no sense to have two players with identical skill sets at a position that's clearly not a need, and for those who want to make the argument that "Johnson is 34 years old and Dorsett was brought in to be his replacement" need I remind you that the team already has a stud in Donte Moncrief as well as the addition of Duron Carter. What was the purpose of bringing him on? Drafting yet another WR (especially in the 1st round) clearly doesn't send the message that you have confidence in him being a major component of your offense, especially anytime soon. Carter also stated that he chose the Colts under the impression that he would be catching balls from Luck. Well as things look right now it doesn't seem that he will be seeing the field anytime soon. Are you going to put him in the rotation with Hilton, Johnson, Dorsett, and Moncrief? What the Colts do between using Dorsett and Moncrief should be interesting to say the least. With this luxury of weapons Pep Hamilton may have to ditch the two TE sets in order to utilize the stable of WRs he has at his disposal. What we are seeing right now with Grigson is a new trend amongst GMs in which they take advantage of the CBA by replacing players approaching the end of their rookie deals via the draft. The only players who aren't viewed as expendable once their rookie contracts are up are franchise QBs. Although I like Dorsett and view him as a special talent, I have to admit that I wasn't fully on board with this year's 1st round choice. After sleeping on it for a few days I am still not fully on board, especially given the fact that the team could have addressed so many other needs with better players on defense who were available. I don't argue the fact that Dorsett is an absolute stud. However, Andrew Luck doesn't need the best Wrs on the planet to be successful. Luck is a good enough QB that he can make average players around him better than what they really are (see Colts offensive line). Will the Colts be better on offense with this pick? That's a given. Will they be a better team overall? That's to be determined.
  15. Once again the Colts sent shockwaves throughout the NFL world with their 1st round latest selection via the 2015 NFL draft. With safety and D-line being the main talk entering the draft within the front office, just about everyone in and outside of Indy had the Colts taking either Landon Collins or Malcolm Brown still on the board. Yet the Colts took former Hurricane blazer Phillip Dorsett and turned the Indy fanbase upside down, with many gnashing their teeth & calling for GM Ryan Grigson’s head on a platter. On the surface this pick appears to be a wasted one given the fact the team is already loaded at the position, especially with the additions of Andre Johnson, and Duron Carter joining an already formidable stable of targets that include T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and TEs Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen from last year. However, there is one good reason why the front office made this move, and that’s to provide insurance at WR if T.Y. Hilton bolts via free agency after the Colts make Luck the league’s highest paid QB. As scary as that may sound, Losing Hilton is a very real possibility when taking into account all of the mouths the front office will have to feed in the next two years. "You have to be smart about it,” Grigson said. “We're always forward thinking. Before we make any type of move, [we] are looking down the line. Because you don't want to hamstring yourself and you don't want to lose your franchise. So, obviously I have very smart people around me that remind me, including our owner. So we'll be smart about that and we'll make sure that we keep our best players here as best we can." Those are the words of a man who is preparing for the “inevitable.” No matter how much we want to believe players we root for will never leave our teams, the harsh reality of the salary cap is a constant reminder that no team is exempt from the casualties of free agency. This year alone leading up to the draft should serve as proof of that reality, especially when you look at the flurry of blockbuster moves that took place. Do you think the possibility of Jimmy Graham being traded to the Seahawks ever crossed the mind of die-hard Saints fans? How about “Shady” McCoy being shipped to Buffalo? Didn’t think so. Those two moves alone should let Colts fans know that nothing can be taken for granted in this league, and with teams jockeying for position to make title runs as best they can, fans should always “expect the unexpected” during this time of year as we enter a new season.
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