It has been an offseason of high drama and constant change for the Colts. Nearly every day, the team has been in the national headlines, typically because of some hint of a rumor that Peyton Manning tossed his car keys to his wife "with good velocity", or because Jim Irsay tweeted, "Sad, but true, do what you gotta do. Scooby Scooby do."
Meanwhile, Irsay has so completely overhauled the front office and coaching staff that philosophically the team is completely unrecognizable. The combination of immovable object (March 8th deadline for Manning's option to be exercised) and the irresistible force (Manning's unparalleled, even insane desire to compete and dominate) have left the rest of the Colts roster in stasis.
The suspended animation of the Colts franchise has lead to no end of jibber-jabbering from every possible angle. Never has there been so much to talk about. Never has it mattered so little.
Peyton is going to go.
The Colts are going to draft Luck.
All the rest is noise.
The Colts' true situation is fairly simple, yet impossible to analyze. This team has entered full rebuild mode. New coach + new GM typically means a complete tabula rasa for a franchise. Within in two years there will be precious little to recognize with the Colts roster. Right now, it's impossible to speculate about any draft picks because the Colts need everything. Even potentially good players like Angerer and Nevis may be shuttled aside as scheme changes could make them square pegs in round holes.
The team isn't going to be competitive in 2012, that much is a given. Talent wise, the roster will likely be purged of players like Saturday, Mathis, Brackett, Wayne, etcetera etcetera. The 2012 Colts, with the exception of the quarterback position, will be worse than the 2011 Colts. So there's no real reason to worry about the upcoming season. If the team wins even 5 games it will be a massive surprise.
Because of that, new head coach Chuck Pagano is really under no pressure to fully install any one system. He can't turn over the whole defensive roster in one offseason, so while you can be sure the team will draft players that fit his vision, it matters very little what that vision looks like in 2012. Any roster or scheme analysis for next season is perfunctory. The team won't win, and whatever we witness will be just one phase in the evolution of the roster, so it's not even all that useful to discuss the ins and outs of it for 2012.
One season is an eternity in the NFL, and two is an eon. The only issue that matters for the future of the Colts beyond 2012 is the development of Andrew Luck. Literally nothing else matters. Oh, it matters who the Colts take in later rounds of the upcoming draft, but none of us have any solid data to work with. We don't know what Grigson likes. We don't know who fits Pagano's vision. We don't know their trends. We don't even know if they'll be any good at drafting. Talking about the Colts draft is an exercise in futility. We can talk about what players are good, but we don't really know who will fit what the Colts want to do, because we don't know what the Colts want to do.
No. one. knows. anything.
I suppose could wring my hands over the totally artificial Luck versus RG3 debate. Of course, the vast majority of the NFL already knows the answer to this question, so any debate is purely for show. I'm sure the Colts will say lots of nice things about RG3. After all, they'd be crazy not to use him as leverage in contract talks with Luck. They can always try and engineer some crazy trade, but I can't see that happening. Luck is as close to a Manning clone as it comes without actually being sired by Archie and Olivia. He's the natural successor. He's a slam dunk safe pick, and for a rookie GM (without a lot of juice), taking Luck is too much of a gift to pass up.
Oh, and then there's Peyton. Everyone wants to read another article about that! Sigh. We get it. He's trying to play. No one knows if he can. The Colts can't pay $28 million on March 8. End of story.
Irsay will try to get him to come back for less. Manning will decide to do what he wants to do. For all the controversy surrounding where Peyton is health-wise, the one thing that absolutely no one disputes is that the Colts cannot pay him the $28 million bonus. They can't afford it. He's not close enough/certain enough to be able to play to make that a viable option. Now, if he decides to come back for less, then we can have lots of long, interesting conversations, but until then all the rest is just talk.
So the one singular issue truly facing the Colts is Andrew Luck. If he's the next Hall of Fame quarterback, the Colts will be very good much much more quickly than some in the media seem to realize. If he's more in the Eli range (perennial top 10, occasionally top 5) guy, then the team will be competitive eventually, though maybe not in 2013. If he's anything less than Eli, then the team will languish in the lower middle-class of the NFL. Of course, there's no good way to project that. Luck looks like he'll translate instantly to the NFL game. But no one knows.
We're just guessing.
It's why I find this offseason tedious and boring.
So much to talk about.
So little to say.
This sounds like I love peyton Manning no matter what article. I'm really excited about the chance to be become a regular football team again. My prediction for last year was 8-8 with the golden child and no playoffs. everybody outside Peyton apologists could see that this was a bad football team. The team had no discernible talent. I heard a quote from MJD that basically said the same thing. How can the defense be any worse than last year? The special teams return/coverage units were an embarrassment to pro football. The team is headed in the right direction. I wish Peyton nothing but the best of luck, but he was saddle with bad football players. Last year was the best time for the Colts to bad with new CBA. I hate to imagine Luck's price without it. I'm more excited about the team than I have been in years. After Luck, I'm hoping far a CB or a DT. This team will be better than last year. I'm ok with five wins for a team moving in the right direction.
@silentkman You are really more excited about the 2012 Colts than any Colts team in years? If so, unless you are the rare Colts fan that hated Manning, I think there is something wrong with your way of thinking?
The 2011 team was, outside of QB and a competent defensive coordinator, more talented (and healthy) than the 2010 team. That team with Peyton contends for the division (especially with Schaub's injury) and the AFC Title.
@silentkman Yeah, I disagree with every single word you said.
Why on earth would you want to become 'a regular football team again'. Honestly, I can't understand that sentiment at all.
The team had plenty of talent. It had no quarterback.
Special teams is basically irrelevant to winning. There's almost no correlation between good coverage units and having a winning team.
We have no idea what direction this team is headed in, but if it's a 'run the ball, stop the run' direction, then there's no hope for the future at all.
Gun to my head, I expect this team to be awful for a long time, and a lot of people will be begging for the good old days when there was a cohesive strategy and they won every year.
@18to88 The team had no talent except at QB and maybe WR. I watch every single game since Dungy arrived. You are dead wrong concerning special teams.
There was no cohesive strategy . The Strategy was Peyton and nothing else. Were you surprised the colts won two games without him? I'm not putting a gun to my head but Cols will a lot better in 2012 than 2011 and will contend for spot in 2013. I'm looking for forward to the future. The glass is half full.
@18to88 @silentkman I agree with you, but pointing out the offensive rank of the Giants and Pats is a little soft, because both teams barely won their title game. If Lee Evans holds onto a ball, and the referee doesn't blow a quick whistle, then two of the top 5 defenses are playing in the playoffs and the Super Bowl QBs are Joe Flacco and Alex Smith.
@silentkman yet the teams that WENT to the Super Bowl were the Giants and Pats who had top 5 offenses. The Giants were 16th in special teams (average) and the Giants had the 20th best defense and the Pats had the 30th best.
Offense wins in the end.
@18to88 I'll give you Mathis and Angerer. Freeney was ranked 32nd this past year year in DE play and Mathis was 12th which is good. The problem is the Colts DE were built for playing with the lead. They never led.
I never heard the quote " "Yeah, but we are on the rise! Look how good our special teams are!". I would like to see it. The point is the proper way to build a football team is to be decent in all three phases of the game.
The 49'ers were great on Defense and the special teams were in the middle and almost made it to a Super Bowl. Jim harbaugh knows how to build a football team. One of the big reasons the 49'ers did well was because they +28 on turnovers.
What was the cohesive strategy?
The fact is that the change was needed. I really saw it during the Super Bowl lost the to the Saints.
If i'm wrong, I'll be the first to admit it. I'm really looking forward to 2012.
@silentkman By the way, I said return coverage didn't matter. Special teams do matter as far as the kicker and punter go. Everything else matters little. It can change a single game, but it's almost random. 49ers had best special teams in the league, and lost b/c of special teams.
Teams with good special teams are the ones with fans who are always saying after a 5-11 season, "Yeah, but we are on the rise! Look how good our special teams are!"
@silentkman Apparently Freeney, Mathis and Angerer didn't play last year. My apologies.
I'm not wrong on ST play. Go do the research based on more than anecdotal evidence by Clark Judge.
There was a very cohesive strategy and it work perfectly for a decade.
Didn't want to post this on a mini-reader blog post, but Garcon has apparently rejected a 5-year contract from the Colts, per Adam Schefter's Twitter:
"Colts free-agent wide receiver Pierre Garcon recently rejected a five-year contract offer from Indianapolis."
Looks like he's going to test the free-agent waters... Crap.
I just knew this was going to be a post in reaction to Kuharsky's post today "Will Colts Pagano lean on dated formula?"
Since this is a very reasonable post, I can only assume:
(A) You haven't seen Kuharsky's piece
(B) You have gone to your quiet place and are just pretending that Pagano does not exist.
@DougEngland Ugh, just read it. I guess I know what I'm going to write about on Monday.
Also, I've rarely ever seen a coach come out and say "our goal is to pass and stop the pass." I feel like these are just words, and I'll wait to see what actually happens on the field.
@dmstorm22 @18to88 @DougEngland Do we know how much of an influence Pagano is going to have over the offense? I mean, Arians aired it out in Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger, so I'm wondering how that's going to mesh. Knowing Pagano's history as a secondary coach is encouraging, but I do have to admit that it sounds odd to say that in this modern era of football.
@dmstorm22 @18to88 @DougEngland Hoping the "just words" approach works. That's what I keep telling myself. But you have to wonder about his recent history w/Baltimore and how much of their offensive approach will end up influencing him here.
Has their lack of a big pass offense been bc of lack of talent at WR and, arguably, QB? Or is it due to philosophy?
It would also be interesting to see Ray Rice's touches broken out into # of carries vs. # of short passes. The short passes can be viewed essentially as runs, in some cases, can they not?
@DougEngland Option A. Going to find it now.
Might Mathews and Moala work in a 3-4 front? Ogbu? Obviously we need a nose tackle, but it seems like we're not as far away from being able to field a 3-4 unit, at least situationally, as some might think. What about Conner as 3-4 backer? Also, I look forward to the possible redemption of Jerry Hughes.
I very much doubt any good defensive players (Angerer or Nevis) will be let go for a scheme change. Mathis is going nowhere. Like Monkeybiz says.
Grigson hasn't said much, but has reiterated his desire to not blow the place up.
While I agree with the idea that all this guessing about everything is noxious.... I think you are being very pessimistic on how many games the Colts will win next year- with or without Peyton Manning. Schedule looks particularly easily.
I still think there is a reasonable chance Peyton Manning is the Colts quarterback next year. Maybe I am dreaming-but I think it would be the best thing for Peyton and the Colts.
@Milkboneunderwear I don't expect Mathis back, though I hope he is. Nevis is almost certainly gone long term. There is zero place for him to play in a 3-4.
I'm not being pessimistic; I'm being realistic. This team will have a top 3 pick in 2013.
@18to88 When he was asked, Jim Irsay indicated Robert Mathis was his priority-along with Pierre Garcon. Now Pagano and Grigson too have said they want Mathis to say. Mathis has tweeted he likes the system Pagano will implement. On defense, Mathis is the quintessential Colt. Why do you expect him gone? Do you know something we don't?
I'm sorry but expecting your team to lose almost every game is pessimism.
@Milkboneunderwear I'm well aware of what Irsay said.
I'm well aware of what Pagano and Grigson said.
I'm also well aware of how the NFL works.
The team will be worse in 2012 than 2011 in every single area but QB. It's impossible to argue that any unit will improve.
I don't see more than 3 or 4 wins out there unless Luck just lights it up early.
Believe it or not, I disagree with you.
I think Luck represents a big QB upgrade, so the O will improve. The D won't be good, but they might do something cool here and there in the new scheme. Call that a wash. Special Teams can't get any worse, so that'll be a plus, and we upgraded at coach. Hell, he might even try a few things like not punting as often, knowing that he has a pass for the year.
The schedule is tough enough that 8-8 is out of reach, but I see no reason they can't win 6 games next year.
@WillyDuer @Milkboneunderwear Hey, if Luck comes in totally ready to roll, anything is possible, I suppose. If 18 was still alive, I'd totally buy it, but I'm not willing to think Luck will come in and make everything click right away. Losing Wayne will be a massive blow that offense. Even if Garcon is ready to become a true #1 (or 1ish), I can't see the #2 being ready (unless it's Collie...and then, scary).
Clark is gone (or present but useless). Addai is old. Carter is meh.
I just don't see an 8 win offense there.
Obviously hope you are right.
Pagano isn't a pure 3-4 guy. The Ravens have run a Hybrid 3-4/4-3 for years.
Based on the current construction of the Colts roster, it doesn't make sense to completely retool the defense. Not when you already have Mathis and Freeney. Not when you have promising young players like Nevis, Powers, Angerer, and Conner.
I think the first casualties of the new regime will come on offense. Reggie is almost certainly a goner. Saturday and Diem as well. Dallas in the near future.
However, the Colts still have good pieces in place. Collie, Tamme, and Garcon can be a good receiving corps. Brown and Carter could be the building blocks of a great running game. Linkenbach, Ijalana, and Castonzo will anchor the O-line.
This team could be very good, very quickly, assuming we don't blow the whole thing up.
@monkeybiz It's not really a 4-3 though. Three of the four are the same guys that line up in their 4-3, and they bring Suggs as a DE. I'm pretty sure almost every play the Ravens line up in a 4-3 is in this formation.
@monkeybiz Teams with new management almost always blow it up. That's just what happens. I don't expect anyone from last year's D except for maybe Angerer to be on the team in 2014.
@18to88 @monkeybiz 2014, with the age of most of the "talent" on the team, most will be retired or forced into retirement (age & contract status). Thinking of the young prospects, there's really not many worth worrying about... Angerer, Costanzo, Ijalana, Conner, Collie, Nevis, Garcon (if he signs this year), McAfee & Snow (granted old but LS always have longer careers and he's a proven good one). Scary to think what this team would have done even if Manning would have played two or three more years. That's not exactly a team built for a quick turn around. Hopefully Grigson will pick up some middle aged free agents to help bridge the gap.
@18to88 Even Bethea? Safety doesn't change much in a 3-4, does it?
@TehRhino Age. He turns 28 this year. The average safety is done by 29. Age and $ will most likely make these his final two years.
A 30 year old safety is often expensive and bad.
You could probably post this article every week until September 2013 and it would be a useful read.
The hard thing is we're so used to devouring all news and information about the team b/c they were great and every little tidbit mattered. It's tough to turn that off. But I do feel like most things I read/watch/listen about the team is a total waste of time. My goal is to transition to only reading CA and use my extra time on IUBB and Pacers reading (not that anyone cares about my goals).
Good stuff, as always. It might complicate things if Peyton comes back...at this point, I'm most worried about getting good WRs/TEs for Luck. If Peyton is back and close to his old self, the draft picks won't be as good. Here's to hoping that they hit some home runs in later rounds on an WR/TE or two...
I will say I don't think Pagano will force out a good player just because they're not "prototypical." James Harrison is a hair over 6 ft and is one of the nastiest linebackers in the league. Angerer and Nevis can flat out play and that's what matters. I have little doubt they'll find a spot in Pagano's new defense, particularly Angerer. I just don't see how is game doesn't translate from 4-3 MLB to 3-4 ILB. Plus, since it's a hybrid we'll still need a good 4-3 MLB
@TrueBlue87 Prototypical has nothing to do with it. Guys like to bring in their own people. Angerer might find a place, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is total roster turnover withing 3 seasons.
@18to88 I think Pagano is an astute enough coach not to get rid of a playmaker just because he's not "his" guy. Yesterday he said he wanted this defense to use both Freeney and Mathis. Surely he saw the All-Pro potential Angerer has. Hell, there were players in the Colts locker room comparing his ceiling to Ray Lewis.
If Nevis can't adjust to 3-4 DE I can see him not being resigned after his rookie contract, but I think young guys like Angerer, Powers and possible Conner being here long term