If you've read this column with any regularity this year, you know that I wasn't always Bruce Arians' biggest fan. As a head coach, I questioned his lack of aggression, along with his decision making on 3rd and 4th downs, and his usage of timeouts and challenges. As an offensive coordinator, I loved his willingness to go deep, but grew frustrated with the resulting hits to his QB - I desperately wanted him to develop a short and intermediate game to go along with the vertical attack.
And as the season ended and Arians' name was thrown out there as a hot commodity in head coaching searches, I was not-so-secretly okay with him moving on. But as the season ended, as I had time to digest what I had watched, what the Colts had been able to do, I started getting mixed feelings. I really did love the vertical aspects of Arians offense, his connection with the players on the roster was undeniable, and, most importantly, I had some major fear of the unknown. There are some seriously bad OC candidates out there, and some of them have ties to Pagano, and, oh, forget it: I was afraid they would hire Cam Cameron.
In the end, when I got down to it, the nits I was picking with Bruce Arians weren't to make him a good coordinator, they were to make him a darn near perfect one. Maybe my standards are too high.
So when it started to look like Arians may not get a head coaching job after all - as the Chargers, Browns, and Bears (oh my!) hired head coaches NOT named Bruce Arians - I was okay with it. Think about it: Grigson is almost guaranteed to make wholesale changes along the OL, and Arians, like every other coach in the league, will take a look at what did and didn't work in 2012 and continue to tweak and adapt things to make it work better. There's a chance the 2013 Bruce Arians-Andrew Luck offense could have been record setting.
Then, out of the blue came the Cardinals: "What a bad fit," I, and the rest of the triple-digit-IQ universe, thought. Still, Arians rightly accepted the job. I say rightly because, look, head coaching jobs don't grow on trees. 2012 was a perfect storm for Bruce Arians, he developed a rookie QB into a star, he got head coaching experience, he lead his team to a 9-3 record, and due to all of the circumstances surrounding the Colts season, not one negative thing was said about him the entire year.
But, and make no mistake about this, it was now-or-never if Arians wanted to become a head coach. First, he's 60 years old, definitely on the wrong side of hiring beliefs that see owners going younger and younger each season. Second, it took this perfect storm to really put Arians on the head coaching candidate map. Third, there's no way Arians could improve his stock in 2013: he (hopefully) wouldn't get a chance to show off his head coaching ability again with the Colts, and the most he could hope for as an offensive coordinator was to continue to lead a great offense. Finally, Bruce Arians doesn't have enough cache to turn down jobs. If he had said no to the Cardinals, it would have - wrongly - created a negative buzz for him next off-season. So, if Bruce Arians ever wanted to be an NFL head coach, he had to take this job.
That night, as I was coming to terms with the situation, I began reading some of Arians' quotes on the Cardinals job. I won't bother copy-and-pasting a wall of text, let's just say that Arians spoke very highly of the Cardinals, their team, and their organization. I believed about 25% of what he said. Not because he's a liar, but because he said what you have to say when you're taking a job you have to take with an organization who doesn't have a reputation for always doing things the right way.
It was during this quote-reading session that I thought: did the Cardinals just do the Colts a huge favor?
Here's what I'm getting at: during his 12-game run as interim head coach, Bruce Arians became a bit of a legend around Indianapolis. Everyone in the city loved him, everyone wanted him to win Coach of the Year, and everyone thought he'd be the best head coaching candidate on the market.
So the first concern: would it be hard for Arians to take a step back from his head coaching stint and become just a coordinator again? Would there be any friction there? Arians and Pagano obviously have a deep affection for him, and I'm not suggesting Arians would harbor any ill-will or resentment towards Pagano. But Arians is human, and he proved that he could do the job, I just wonder how that dynamic would have played out.
Second, and more important in my mind: what happens if the Colts - as I believe may happen - take a step back in 2013? I don't know that anyone would argue that the 2012 Colts were a great team, 11-5 record or not. So what would happen if the Colts started 2-4? 2-5? 1-6? Would there be no mention, not one, from media and fans, that Arians went 9-3 with this same team, and that maybe the Colts needed to make a change?
I wouldn't have been among the people asking those questions, by the way. I think Pagano will be an excellent coach, and if the Colts take a step back next year, it won't be because of any deficiencies he has as the Colts leader. But I think we can all admit that someone would have asked those questions, and it would have made for an unnecessarily uncomfortable situation.
Despite my love-hate "relationship" with Bruce Arians, I'm going to miss him. For all of the bad that came with his coaching, there was far more good. I hope his tenure in Arizona is a success, and that he finds that franchise a QB and takes them to the Super Bowl - where they can lose to the Colts. And while breaking up is hard to do, sometimes it's for the best.
I have been a vocal Arians critic from week 1. I hated the hiring and dreaded what we would see. His performance this year has sort of changed my mind. I say sort of, because I abhor his "system". But he did a great job in the "intangible" category. He also learned lessons through the year and became aggressive in the right circumstances. I'm not sure Pagano has learned those same lessons. So, I think that the ARI hiring is a win-win for both teams and for Arians.
As for Pep, I'm not a huge fan of the WC offense, but there seems to be a general misunderstanding of what a WC offense is. Being a WC offense has very little to do with how "vertical" the team is. Being WC has to do with vocabulary, techniques & tactics. There are as many vertical routes in the WC playbook as in the Arians' one. Describing NE's offense as WC for instance is just flat wrong.
One of the things I hated this year was how infrequently Luck was allowed to be in charge. We have one of the most intelligent QBs in the league. Build an offense around that! Pep has a history of that, so I'm encouraged.
I have a lot of respect for Arians, and I'm very happy for him. He seems like a good man, and I agree that Luck likely benefited greatly from his tutelage.
Here's why I'm relieved to see him go:
2012 - IND - 105 QB Hits (most in the league by 13%)
2011 - PIT - 45 Sacks (5th most in league)
2010 - PIT - 45 Sacks (2nd most in league)
2009 - PIT - 52 Sacks (1st)
2008 - PIT - 50 Sacks (4th)
2007 - PIT - 49 Sacks (6th)
(I didn't use sacks for 2012 Indy... there were 40, which is still bad... because of Luck's ability to avoid them)
I'm going to make an educated guess that all of us at CA would like to see Luck play for 12-15 years and to be healthy for most (or all) of that time. Did you know that Roethlisberger is only 30 years old? He should be in his prime, and instead he seems old and brittle to me.
"That's just how Roethlisberger plays." - Pittsburgh was 13th in Sacks and 19th in knockdowns this year without Arians.
"But Luck and Roethlisberger both loved him!" - True. I'm sure it's really fun to be a QB who chucks the ball down the field all the time. But I am not concerned with his likability or the short-view effectiveness of his offense.)
"It's the Offensive Line that the problem, not the Offensive Coordinator." - While I will agree that Pittsburgh didn't have a great O-Line (and 2012 Indy was avert-your-eyes-bad), I can't help but feel that they weren't put in a position to succeed.
I don't see much difference in talent between the 2011 and 2012 lines of Indy and Pittsburgh, only a change in scheme... one that resulted in a 52% increase in QB hits and a 14% increase in sacks in Indy... and a 16% decrease in sacks and a 6% decrease in QB hits in Pittsburgh.]
I want Luck to turn into some blend of Favre/Manning/Young/Brady... not an on-the-decline-at-30 Roethlisberger.
Ah greg! Why do you steal thoughts from my brain and make them into articles?
I asked myself this same question, and through a similar thought process. I was kinda excited to see him leaving towards the end of the season, but as we started discussing more replacement possibilities I wasn't sure anyone better was available. Especially someone that was willing to take those aggressive deep shots.
The one thing missing from this article, that i was hoping you'd talk about was Pep Hamilton (and his comments about west-coast offense) because I think the replacement is just as big of a part in determining the consequences of BA leaving! Obv, his name was said by many before BA left (and after), and they were right. But idk if i like this. Yes, he knows luck, but many people are saying that's why the offense won't take a step back (due to new playbook) but many people are forgetting that there are 9 people on that starting O that know nothing about Pep. But that would have happened regardless to it's a moot point. (except that some people just don't think things through).
But more importantly why I don't like this move is because of the type of system he ran - west-coast offense. Personally never been a huge fan, but I just don' tknow if that utilizes the weapons available for the colts, and whether it will incorporate the deep game we have come to love! His comments suggest that they really won;t.
Granted, he'll likely make more use of the great TEs available to him than BA ever did, but let's hope he doesn't forget about the speedy and crafty T.Y. and Brazil!
I just don't know how thi's'll turn out in the end. I have full faith, Just worries that this may actually end up being a step down from where we were this year.
As a Colts fan, I truly enjoyed BA... his handling of the interim job, his leadership during that time, and his candidness, which was refreshing. I will also say, as a fan, I enjoyed the vertical passing game that he employed. It was so much enjoyable than, say, the offense that the Patriots tried to use against the Ravens. Dink and dunk. Joe Flacco, despite the wind, tried to gain "chunk" plays. For the fan (like I am), that is so very plaudible. I love it! I certainly hope Pep keeps the best parts of it in his offense.
By the way, Tommy Brady has withrdrawn from the Pro Bowl, which means our pal Andy Luck will be playing in his first Pro Bowl!
I think the Cardinals did,unknowingly, do the Colts (and especially Andrew Luck) a huge favor. The offense that Pep Hamilton brings seems much more in tune with what Grigs and Pagano had in mind, not chucking it all over the stadium without a really stout line to provide a secure , reliable pocket.
I'm very excited about the coaching changes to date, and am anticipating an interesting and productive offseason for Grigs to continue building the roster to championship contending caliber. Luck has to truly be ecstatic about Pep taking over his development. Arians put Luck through a baptism of fire and the kid survived. Now it's time to build a roster around him that best utilizes his vast talent, and those of ALL the skill position players around him. Like a true butt-kicker of a fullback, and let Fleener and Allen do their thing as legit NFL tight ends.
One last thing . . . .Pep was hired so fast I almost bet this was the outcome Grigs was hoping for, and he had Pep on "standby" just waiting for Arians to get his job offer from anybody.
I'm not happy that Arians is gone, but I am happy about bringing in the West coast system. I think it probably fits a bit better with Paganos vision of the team. I know some have voiced concern that Peps offense didn't throw to WR much, but the WR at Stanford were not very good. It's hard to blame home for using the best talent on his team. What I think will be the lasting legacy of BA here is that he pushed Luck early to go downfield instead of being safe. That skill alone is tough to teach and BA seems to be a master at teaching it. Manning learned from BA and continued to throw downfield even without a canon of an arm. If that is the only lasting skill he taught Luck, it will benifit both Luck and the Colts for the next 15 years
Here is what "somewhat" scares me about losing Arians. Big Ben loved him. And openly blasted the Steelers for letting him go. (And to my knowledge, never let up on how he felt.) How often does a team's franchise QB be this vocal about a coaching move?
Luck also seemed to have a great affection for him. Even joking that if another team wanted his opinion on Arians he would intentionally sabatoge him.
These are the two guys that are "put in harm's way" by Arians playcalling style. And if they are all right with it...
(Whereas, Peyton said his OC had done a great job and deserved a shot as a Head Coach, but didn't really seem to nonplussed that McCoy took the job with a divisional rival.)
Still, I think Luck is so damn good, it won't really matter.
The 2 minute offense was impressive this year, especially since it was run with a lot of rookies, including Luck. If there is anything I would like Hamilton to keep from Arians' offense it would be that.
Doing a bit o' research (i.e. casually letting Google find articles for me), I found a couple of tidbits regarding the perception of Arians while at the Steelers. Remember, the classic "Steelers Football" is pound pound pound on Defense and then run run run. That's a direct quote, which includes a reference to not playing "[wussy] Colts football". Bastardos!
The biggest complaints of Arians in Pittsburgh was that he:
1. Could not get short yardage gains when he needed them.
2. His desire to throw the ball (which was really more due to the Steelers having problems running the ball)
3. He's predictable, not able to adjust, sticks to his game plan even when it fails (which is inability to adjust, I agree)
4. His lack of desire to bench anyone no matter how bad they are playing or how good their backup is (Samson Satele, anyone?)
5. In the red zone, quick passes to the middle of the field resulting in interceptions, dropped balls, no gain.
6. Calling too many empty set formations on 3rd down.
7. And a general lack of scoring in the red zone.
Purportedly, Art Rooney met personally with Arians and Mike Tomlin, asking them to please get a running game working.
Have we seen this behavior/results this past year? Yep. Was he bailed out by Luck? Yep. Do I ask myself rhetorical questions? Heavens no.
It seems Arians is a great "improve the team and get to a certain level" coach, but it looks like he lacks the aggressiveness to be a closer. Compare that to Jim Caldwell coaching the offense on the Ravens and I'm seeing someone who does adjust and become more aggressive. Did I just say that?
So this might actually be a good time to replace Arians now that the team has some chemistry. Pagano can bring back some good D, hiring the right people. Plus a WCO with a good running QB in place (Luck) might get us solid wins and the ability to close out games.
P.S. Ah so nice seeing the Patriots lose. I'm not a huge Ray Lewis fan, and I get tired of his ranting about God being on his side, but seeing the Pats denied another SB win (none since Spygate) is rewarding. Now we just need to meet and beat them in the playoffs. Anyone else thinking that Billy B might bench Tom Brady? Prob not yet, but maybe after a few more years of missing the big one.
Oddly enough, I'd actually said what you did: This is a blessing in disguise for Indianapolis. Folks have seen me post here and elsewhere that I thought Arians would be wonderful at getting the offense off the ground, but in about 3 years would become the limiting factor, as he doesn't seem to 1. Want to let the QB have all his weapons available (we saw nearly no dumpoff passes to the RB, and the awesome TEs Indy has were woefully underutilized, IMO), and 2. Let the QB run a no huddle (which he only allowed when the Colts were behind).
And I was aggravated that he did not adjust the offensive line schemes much, leading to Luck having to scramble for his life like Ben Roethlisberger. That's a great formula, IMO, for getting a perpetually injured QB in 2 or 3 years.
On the other hand, we all have to be aware of the possibility of our conclusions being based on incomplete information. It's noteworthy that Roethlisberger's production in Pittsburgh has not been as high since Arians left. I believe that's a function of the offensive line woes there, but I should not ignore the correlation, in case it's relevant. Plus, he DID take this Colts team to the playoffs. That cannot be ignored either.
But in the end, I still think it's best for Luck to have a coach that's willing to lighten the reins a little, and give him more options. Under Arians, Luck kept on faithfully working within the system, but the system had him throwing to 1 very suspect receiver (Avery) and one hard working one (Hilton) who simply is not a #1 caliber guy while not taking full advantage of a pair of TEs and a running back. And that system had him running for his life too often because it would not accept short and intermediate passes, thus setting him up for the pass rush to get to him. If Hamilton will allow a bit more no huddle and get more targets involved, then that'll be better overall for Luck. As long as he doesn't shackle Andrew in different ways. What's really needed is another couple of years of a teaching OC, and then a Tom Moore type who'll plan the offense and then let the QB run it for him on Sunday. I'm hoping Hamilton will evolve into that, but I don't think Arians ever would have.
I'm mainly in favor of Luck living a few years. Loved Arians in many ways, but don't trust him to protect his QBs. Pep will protect Luck. And for those who love the long pass, if you have the talent in your receivers (speed, hands, route running), you'll get the big plays.
I had also wondered about the potential awkwardness of Arians having to step back into a coordinator role after doing such a good job at HC. I have gone through a whole roller coaster of emotions with Arians leaving and Hamilton coming in. I dread the WC offense (I mean who doesn't make fun of it more than I do coughBradycough), but frankly... it can work. And as long as Hamilton is willing to keep some deep passes in the playbook, hopefully we'll see a blend of the schemes that is unstoppable!
@kasey_junk Please correct me if I am wrong. Bill Walsh was initially an assistant to Al Davis with the Raiders and (here is where I may be wrong) he started in the vertical offense. It was only when he went to the Bengals to work for Brown as a receivers coach when he modified the offense in part because of the limitations of his QB at that time who did not have a strong arm. Then he went to Chargers, what kind of offense did he run with Dan Fouts? After that it was Stanford and 49ers where he implemented the WCO that we all know. The idea is that the 2 styles of offense can be intertwined depending on personnel, nothing is set in stone.
@GregC Well, if you think Arians was a bad hire by Arizona, then it was a Cardinal's fan. But if you think it was a good hire, it's probably a Niners, Seahawks, or Rams fan. :D
@mshah9008 We might take a step down next year just due to schedule strength, assuming it isn't as easy as this year's schedule. That won't bother me too much.
With regard to the WC offense Pep will bring in - aren't there wide variations in the WC approach? I think Green Bay would be regarded as running a variant of the WC. They have a tremendous receiving corp and certainly don't just dink and dunk it. The original WC offense of Walsh had Jerry Rice and they didn't rely solely on short passes. So, I hope that the overall abilities of our squad will result in Pep giving us a WC variation that incorporates some of the higher efficiency passing, as well as preserving a less frequent vertical approach.
Can't wait to see!!
@oldecoltsfan I agree. Think they loved and respected Arians but couldn't have stuck with him long term unless he changed his orientation ... Protected Luck more, had a balance of plays that didn't take so much time to develop, etc. Luck survived and proved what a team player, good guy, high IQ, and elite talent he is ... But no reason not to make life easier for him and the team ... I think they can be more successful with a different offensive philosophy. I think Grigson would have been in a tough spot if Arians didn't leave. I'm thrilled for Arians and happy he's moved on ...
@Music Man I don't know why everyone assumes he's going to run the West Coast here just because he ran it running a team with completely different assets in college ball. If he's not the sort of coach who can make adjustments in the pros, then he probably was a poor choice anyway. I think neither of these is the case.
@DougEngland Just a couple of things to keep in mind: Big Ben is an idiot and says a lot of ridiculous things so his opinion on BA is jaundiced. Also, Grigson isn't choosing to let Arians go. The Cardinals are hiring him to be the latest HC to fail in Phoenix otherwise he'd be back as OC in Indy. I won't speculate whether Grigson is happy that it worked out this way (of course he is, you dolt!).
Can't blame Arians for taking the job. His stock has never been higher and will certainly not remain so come this time next year so absolutely he should take the money and move to the desert. Wisenhunt took the Cards to a SB but couldn't sustain the success so if a guy a football smart as him can't keep his job in Arizona, Arians has no chance to turn the franchise around. I do wish him well because he's a good man and deserves a shot to earn the big bucks.
@DougEngland Have you ever heard Luck be anything but totally enthusiastic about and thankful to a coach? I haven't and I've been following him for over 4 years. I think it is sincere ... He's a humble, appreciative, non judgmental guy with a great attitude. He's totally coachable ... And coaches love him and treat him well. He'll be fine ... And with Pep, he'll live longer. FYI, you should hear Andrew talk about coach Harbaugh ...
@DougEngland There's definitely something to be said in having a coach that's a father figure with mutual admiration in play, that's for sure. Pagano looks to have some of the same feelings for Luck, in that, there's a lot of hugging and helmet tapping.
@codrutc Don't worry. If anything, Luck was better at that at Stanford than he was with the Colts. I think that's vintage Luck more than the particular scheme ... But if it is the scheme, the one used at Stanford could be fine. I think it's Luck's focus and just plain willing things to happen, but that may make no sense at all! Of course, his stats after a pick or other things that get him focused (pissed?) are similar to the 2 minute ... So maybe it is Luck. It will be interesting to see ...
@buymymonkey It's telling that a lot of the criticisms he seemed to take in Pittsburgh have been echoed here on this site at some point during the season, at 60 he just seems pretty set in his ways, for better or worse. I too am one of those people who had strong feelings about wanting to see him go before backing off of them a bit toward the end of the season when our redzone offense seemed to get much better and we had our best game against Houston (coincidentally the game that Arians was able to focus on being an OC and not a HC). All that being said, I am not heartbroken to see him go, I've wanted to see what Luck could do in a West Coast Offense in the NFL (it's a proven system and one he knows like the back of his hand). I could see us running something like what Green Bay does with Rodgers (him and Luck having very analogous skill sets IMO, both running and passing).
As to your PS, I too am not a fan of Ray Lewis acting like he's some kind of modern day prophet, but I would rather put up with that for the next 2 weeks than talk about Brady playing in his 6th Super Bowl. Brady really choked in the 4th quarter of that game (failed 4th down and 2 picks on the final 3 possessions), but has avoided much criticism for it.
@AJ_ I completely agree. I wrote in the Pep Hamilton as OC announcement thread that I believed Pep would be much more willing to give Luck control and authority over the offense, especially when it comes to changing plays at the line of scrimmage and running the no-huddle. I keep going back to Tom Moore's quote about elite QBs: "When you have an elite quarterback, don't hold him back." (paraphrasing a little bit). Pep seems to be the kind of guy that is humble enough to leave his ego behind and allow Luck to do his thing. I'm extremely excited for this next year and can't wait to see how the offense improves.
@andreaallennyc I agree with your assessment 100%. Luck was hit too may times this year. I thought Arians did a great job running the team. I would like to see some more big boy Football (running) to alleviate the pressure on our franchise QB. Offense linemen should be the top two priorities.
@LovinBlue I see it more as a Green Bay-type offense than a New England-type offense (Luck and Rodgers skillsets are very similar). I've been reading a lot recently about Brady's lack of big plays, especially in the post-season, being his undoing and it really rings true. Even though they added Brandon Lloyd, there were still very few long passes, especially long scoring plays, in the Patriots offense. That hampered their ability to mount comebacks and win late in games when they were down. With the speed of T.Y. and Brazill, they better not pull in the reigns too much on the deep stuff!
@codrutc You're right, about Davis and the rest. The WCO can be very flexible and can easily incorporate vertical aspects ... And I expect that Pep will do that. He'll tweak the offense to utilize the skills of the players he has ... You could see that as the personnel changed at Stanford. Plus, he should put more in the hands of Luck, since that's what they did at Stanford.
@AJ_ the ENTIRE NFC WEST hacked us
@7IHd @Music Man Well, Pep said he would run a West Coast type of offense with the Colts, but also said he'd incorporate other things. Personally, I found watching Stanford with Luck a lot more exciting than watching the Colts with Luck. There was no dearth of exciting passing plays at Stanford, he didn't get sacked all the time, and a 70% completion percentage is a lot more fun to watch than a 54% completion percentage ... And I could do without the excitement of picks and fumbles. Of course, Stanford had a much better line and overall their receivers and RBs were better (all relative to the competition at the College level) ... Wayne excepted, of course. Try not to worry about the West Coast offense or a bit of dink and dunk ...
@Colt_Following Thank you for that P.S.
Peyton in single degree weather, played MUCH better than Tom Terrific did yesterday. (Peter King vaguely mentioned that Brady had a C game, I'd say more like a D-Plus)
In the 4th quarter of the Broncos/Ravens game Peyton was 7 of 8 for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos got jobbed by the officials and still only lost because of a complete fluke play. Yet, all we hear, is it is somehow Peyton's fault. He has too many one and dones.
And one of the Broncos beat writers said that effing WormTongue Kravitz told him after the Colts/Ravens game that "Peyton wasn't the same QB in the playoffs". Well who the hell is.
And Peyton sure didn't have his worse game of the season in the playoffs. Whereas, the great Tom Brady sure had his.
@TheGreatMisdirect @AJ_ The only reservation I have about Pep is that we really don't know much about him .... He did not call the plays at Stanford, so we haven't seen much of his personality or inclinations. I'm hoping he is less conservative than Shaw (who I'm actually 95% thrilled with). But I really trust Grigson and his assessment of Pep as an OC ... and take the hiring as proof of a sincere interest in protecting and developing Luck ... Which I think is the best thing for the franchise ... Luck is everything he was hyped to be as well as a really good guy who fits Indianapolis. So good for everyone.
@TheGreatMisdirect @LovinBlue The problem is that with all the things that Brady does really well (going through progressions and making timely, accurate passes to the open man), no one has ever accused him of being a deep-ball QB with a laser-rocket arm. Sure, he tossed a ton up to a motivated Randy Moss since he's not Aaron Brooks, nor were they an abysmal Raiders squad, and it's Randy Moss. But honestly, he's not that effective throwing downfield, despite dicing people up in short- to mid-range. Brandon Lloyd and Chad Johnson aren't gonna change that.
@mshah9008 I thought THAT was a given
@GregC aw, and here I was thinking you were calling me beautiful
@buymymonkey @DougEngland @Colt_Following Totally agree on the "airing it out" part. You have to remember, though, that the dink and dunk offense with an elite QB pretty much only exists in New England. Beyond just elite QBs, I can think of other teams that have gone that way, but only because the QB lacked the arm strength to actually get the ball down the field (I'm thinking Chad Pennington and Colt McCoy). Results were mixed (Chad Pennington was a good QB when his shoulder wasn't jelly, but he was still never able to throw a "frozen rope"; Colt McCoy, same story without the injury).
Luck clearly has the arm strength and technique to throw the long ball, plus speed receivers to stretch the field via both the seam and the outside (Hilton and Fleener). Pep made it a point during his teleconference to say that the offense will definitely takes its "shots" down the field, still (source: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8862064/pep-hamilton-indianapolis-colts-eager-reunite-andrew-luck).
I think part of the Patriots problem is that they don't have a true, outside receiver who's not aging away. Brandon Lloyd had great success in Denver with McDaniels and Orton, but I'm not sure why they wouldn't want to extend that success to New England with an even better QB in Brady. Who knows where the blame lies in that, but it's interesting to think about. Maybe Lloyd lost a step, or McDaniels had to adapt his offense to the two TE sets to allow Gronk and Hernandez to do their things.
@TheGreatMisdirect @DougEngland @Colt_Following Fantastic find! Of course now that makes me worry about our new West Coast Offense direction. We need Luck to keep "airing it out". Maybe Arians convinced Luck that long passes are always an option, and win games. Combine that with short dink and dunks and we may be right where we want to be (plus fix the defense, Oline, ... oh nevermind)
Posted after the game yesterday: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/last-stand-baltimore-ravens-smash-new-england-patriots-mystique-for-final-time/20993/
In-depth examination by Scott Kacsmar on the lack of deep throws in the Patriots offense since 2006: http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/super-bowl-hangover-pt-2-from-bradying-to-welker/13471/
Essentially, it comes down to the lack of a good, or above average, yards per attempt. Brady excels are the short-to-intermediate routes, but doesn't have any downfield threats anymore, especially after Moss left (Brandon Lloyd is little more than a decoy speed threat). This makes it much more difficult for Brady to make comebacks, due to the lack of big plays. That explains Brady's record of 67-1 when leading at halftime at home (first loss being the Ravens yesterday). Good stuff.