I'll take tweets on absolutely any subject except IU basketball. I'm not ready to go there yet, ok?
A: The only grade that matters for a GM is wins and losses, and the draft will always be the biggest influencer on that front.
Grigson's first five rounds in the 2012 draft were insane. It could go down as one of the best drafts ever, certainly for one year at least.
On that count, I give him an unqualified "A".
There have been missteps, for sure, but small errors in free agency really don't matter to anything compared with drafting. This free agency period, I'd give him a solid B.
No, I don't get the Erik Walden signing, but I get what they were trying to do. Grigson improved the roster without mortgaging the future. That's all you can hope for in free agency anyway.
He's avoided long-term mistakes while making short-term gains. It's hard to argue with that.
A: I would take the Seahawks, Colts and Redkins in that order. I think Indy will have the best quarterback play, but Seattle has a much stronger roster, top to bottom.
Given that we don't know if Griffin will even be healthy, it's difficult to project the Redskins as a playoff team.
The fact is that people will continue to compare the three young quarterbacks forever. The teams themselves are considerably less equivalent.
#CATweetbag whos the best wide reciever the colts could get in free agency or the draft?— Jesus mena jr (@babyjesus107) March 22, 2013
A: The best option at wideout has always been in the draft. Given Indy's dalliance with free agents, however, it seems unlikely they grab one in round one. Grigson and Chuck Pagano know full well the defense is still a motley assortment of spare parts. They need an anchor on that side of the ball.
Still, if I'm looking for a fit at wideout, it's hard not to like Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. He's got terrific skills and is big and fast. He'd be an incredible compliment to T.Y. Hilton for years to come.
A: Honestly, it still could be. If Vontae Davis and Greg Toler are both healthy, then the corners are solid, but both battled injuries last season.
With LaRon Landry and Toler in the fold, the Colts are better in the secondary, but it's a thin unit. If the projected starters play together, it could be a middle-of-the-pack group at best, but that would be a dramatic improvement.
With even one or two injuries, however, this unit could easily return to the bottom of the league.
A: I think this is a fantastic question.
The reason is that it shows just how unrealistic expectations are for tight ends. A slash line of 65/850/8 would be an insane season.
Since 2000, there have been just 16 such seasons by a tight end. Jason Witten, Rob Gronkowski and Dallas Clark only managed one single year like that in their entire careers.
Only 14 different tight ends in history have ever had that kind of a season.
So, no. He won't put up anything in that ball park.
Dallas Clark didn't hit 500 yards receiving in a season until he was 28.
Will Fleener be more productive in 2013?
That will look more like 30/400/5.
A: Bill Simmons was talking to Bob Ryan on his podcast this week about how the Patriots keep losing in the playoffs because "they didn't go all in".
I wanted to puke.
They've dropped Super Bowls and AFC Title games because they flat choked. Pure and simple. They had an inferior Ravens team at home for a chance to go to a sixth Super Bowl, and they lost.
I hate Patriot fans because they haven't yet figured out that they were lucky to win three titles and unlucky to have lost a few others. Even after all these years, they don't get it.
A: I love Grimm. Other than Justified, it's the one show on TV right now that disappoints me less often than any other.
Is it a little cheesy with the special effects? Sure, sometimes, but I grew up on Star Trek and am a die-hard X-Files and Smallville lover, so I can handle that.
Mostly, I enjoy the world they've created and feel like the show deals effectively with the concept of culture.
It's a great watch.
My only complaint is that Juliet is extraneous. They need to kill her off.
My big hope with Fleener is that we start throwing the "jump ball from the 2 yard line" pass to HIM instead of one of our 5'10" receivers...
Ha! Think it's great you like Grimm. That show was a real surprise to me. I thought it started off poorly (first couple episodes) but with promise, but the writers did a great job of grabbing on to what work, writing in good characters and developing the plot. I also find it funny that so many Grimm fans hate Juliet. Personally, I think people hate her cause of the way she looks. There's something about her face that is just annoying! I like her character more now that the first season, where she was completely pointless.
Juliet's on her own island. If she was allowed to actually remember the main character, it might help her. It was a stupid plot device when it started, and it's worse now.
Great stuff! Although, I quit Smallville a long time ago. It just seemed to fizzle out for me. Heroes did that as well.
I'm surprised you give Grigson a "B" for this FA period. I'm not sure I would but I'm still trying to calm down over the thought of Erik Walden and RJF as our new pass-rushers and Cassius Vaughn probably seeing the field a lot. That and maybe I should not have read WalterFootball.com's FA grades. http://walterfootball.com/freeagents2013recap.php
@NateDunlevy ya..juliet is kinda a drag, but i wanna see where they go with this hallucination stuff. Also, can Nick get any more badass?
So, if you wanted to take a Colts TE for a fantasy team, would you take Fleener or Allen? And you can't kill off Juliet, every fairy tale needs the damsel.
FYI, Coby Fleener's senior year stats at Stanford were 34 passes for 667 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns in 13 games. I agree with you that this season should be better than his rookie year, just because. I also think Pep may use him more effectively than Arians did. Among other things, I think Pep may be better at developing an offense that optimizes the skills of his players rather than having a really strong offensive philosophy that forces players into roles.
@Colts fan in Utah I think Pep knows that play ... the Luck to Fleener high fade in the corner was even featured on their Pro Day ... Though some thought it was just a bad pass!!
@rogcohen She turned a corner late in season one and I almost dug her. Then she forgot everything and became a pointless drag.
They just don't have great chemistry. I feel like she's more of a plot device than a character at this point.
Dead on about the first couple of episodes. They were great, but you could see a path to a watchable show, and shockingly, they've followed it. Plus Monroe's character is fantastic from the go.
Nick's growth has really carried it though.
@LovinBlue Thank you!
@thejoshbaker Deb and I spent an entire episode mocking her sitting in her house being irrationally terrified.
It was like, "Hey? I wonder what Juliet is up to?"
Nothing. She's sitting in the corner afraid. For. An. Entire. Episode.
@bradicus18 FA isn't the time to significantly improve the team. FA is the time to plug your obvious holes with other teams' leftovers, so you can have the luxury of picking BPA in the draft. To that extent, I think Grigson did a very good job. I'd hate to go into the draft without a starting corner or pass rusher, and be forced to pass over good offensive talent for lesser defensive guys.
@bradicus18 yeah that is depressing. The Colt's should have more talent next year, but I wish Grigson didn't go for so many reclamation projects. They make you look like a genius when they work. But a lot of the time you get Donny Avery.
@bradicus18 The problem people have with the Colts' moves is that they view them in isolation of the overall talent level of the team and the cap situation.
They overpaid for average players. That's normally death. Given the state of the cap, however, they'll suffer no ill-effects from it.
That's why I give them a B.
@igboeagle I think he's still growing. The blindfold scene last episode with the fruit was sweet. Really good show.
@smonroe From a fantasy standpoint, mark me down as thinking Fleener will have a monster year amongst TEs. And certainly better, again from a fantasy standpoint, than Allen.
@smonroe I'd take Allen.
It's fine having a damsel, but they need something to push Nick over the line from cop to pure monster killer.
@andreaallennyc I hope so. But the ground and pound rhetoric has me worried.
@andreaallennyc Arians constantly frustrated everyone by not having plays in the red zone that took advantage of and featured the 6' 6" Coby Fleener. I think Pep will utilize him much better.
@macintux NEVER! My arguments are never invalid!
@Nate Dunlevy Agreed, on all accounts. The chemistry is bad, and I think a large part of that has to do with Juliet's face. It's a chemistry killer!
Monroe carried the show at the beginning, but Nick's growth and Hanks transition and has been great.
@Ubeor @bradicus18 I agree with you any other year. They are spot-on most of the time. This year, the situation is unique. It was nearly impossible not to improve through FA. If you are unable to improve with $40+ million, you were able to pay peanuts to very good players the previous year or you signed a bunch of dumpster fire players to replace dumpster fire players for more money. The Colts clearly were not in the former position and avoided the latter.
I don't think the Colts filled all of their holes. The Colts ARE going into the draft without one starting-level corner and without one starting-level pass-rusher. Davis and Mathis are the only sure starters at those positions, respectively. Toler has potential but is not proven and is not demonstrably better than Powers. He may get beaten out by Butler. Walden is just not good. He might be better than Hughes and he might not. Freeney has not been replaced.
I also don't like that the evidence is pointing to the Colts believing that they will be better because they will stop the run. That might be true against bad and marginal teams, not against elite passing teams. Landry, RJF, and Franklin are run-stoppers and Toler may have been targeted for improved run defense capability as Ben (I think) pointed out earlier. Landry is a SS. I think he was a good signing and I have no problem that he is a run-stopper but he can be a liability in pass defense. Franklin is really depth at this point but a run-stopper and nothing else. RJF is young and versatile but a singular run-stopper. However, looking back, RJF was really the only option at DE/DT as no alternatives existed.
I think the Colts are clearly better on the OL and at safety. CB and pass-rusher is still a need as well as WR. The defensive players that will likely be available at #24 are not marginal talents. They are at least as good as the WR that will be available there, probably better. And, while WR is a need, I think CB and pass-rusher are still greater needs. However, the Colts have probably put themselves in a position where they feel the need to draft a WR.
As good as Patterson, Allen, and Hopkins might be, I don't know that I take one of those guys over Desmond Trufant or Damontre Moore. If Jarvis Jones or Xavier Rhodes fall to #24, the answer is clear. Furthermore, one or two of those WR will be gone by #24. What if the guy the Colts were targeting there is gone? Sign DHB over Walden, and I think the Colts would be in a better position to draft BPA.
TLDR; I feel the Colts had a singular run-stop focus in FA and failed to address glaring needs at pass-rusher and CB and to a lesser degree, WR. The Colts probably feel like they did for the former two and will address WR in the draft, not BPA. Oh, and this was entirely too long but it's fun to play "armchair GM."
The other thing I've learned is that I have been pretty much dead wrong every free agency about the impact players will have (not so much with the Colts, but more in terms of big name signings), and usually that impact is minimal. I like the Colts scattershot approach. The more players signed, the better chance we'll get lucky and a couple will break out. Furthermore, if the players don't work out, the contracts will not be dead cap when it comes to resigning the 2012 Draft Class to extended contracts.
Seriously though, how many 2012 free agents will go on to be be significant upgrades next year for their new teams?
I apologize in advance for the length of this comment, I didn’t want to make an entirely separate post about it but I was curious why the expectations for tight ends seem to be so out of line with what the position has produced historically (as Nate pointed out) so I figured I should look up the numbers and find out.
Here's a list of tight ends that have had 790+ receiving yards since 2000:
2000 - 2 - Tony Gonzalez (1,203); Shannon Sharpe (810)
2001 - 2 - Tony Gonzalez (917); Shannon Sharpe (811)
2002 - 2 - Jeremy Shockey (894); Todd Heap (836)
2003 - 1 - Tony Gonzalez (916)
2004 - 5 - Tony Gonzalez (1,258); Jason Witten (980); Antonio Gates (964); Eric Johnson (825); Randy McMichael (791)
2005 - 3 - Antonio Gates (1,101); Tony Gonzalez (905); Todd Heap (855)
2006 - 3 - Antonio Gates (924); Tony Gonzalez (900); Kellen Winslow (875)
2007 - 4 - Tony Gonzalez (1,172); Jason Witten (1,145); Kellen Winslow (1,106); Antonio Gates (984)
2008 - 5 - Tony Gonzalez (1,058); Jason Witten (952); Owen Daniels (862); Chris Cooley (849); Dallas Clark (848)
2009 - 8 - Antonio Gates (1,157); Dallas Clark (1,106); Jason Witten (1,030); Brent Celek (971); Vernon Davis (965); Kellen Winslow (884); Tony Gonzalez (867); Zach Miller (805)
2010 - 3 - Jason Witten (1,002); Vernon Davis (914); Chris Cooley (849)
2011 - 9 - Rob Gronkowski (1,327); Jimmy Graham (1,310); Jason Witten (942); Aaron Hernandez (910); Tony Gonzalez (875); Dustin Keller (815); Brent Celek (811); Fred Davis (796); Vernon Davis (792)
2012 - 7 - Jason Witten (1,039); Jimmy Graham (982); Tony Gonzalez (930); Greg Olsen (843); Heath Miller (816); Brandon Myers (806); Rob Gronkowski (790)
Obviously a lot of the same names repeat on the list. TE seems to be a position that’s dominated by a select few, so just because great tight ends have posted 800 yard seasons pretty consistently doesn’t necessarily mean it's a realistic expectation for Fleener. Additionally, the frequency of 790+ yard seasons has increased quite dramatically in the last half dozen years or so, which makes sense given the increase in passing overall in that period of time, though it may also suggest more diverse talent and/or an increased emphasis on the position generally during that stretch.
790+ yard seasons from 2000-2006: 18 or roughly 2.6 per year
790+ yard seasons from 2007-2012: 36 or roughly 6 per year
In 2000 a 400 yard season would put Fleener 12th among tight ends, a pretty great result, but in 2012 that same 400 yards would make him the 30th most productive at the position, not horrible but not exactly stellar either for a high 2nd round pick.
One final note that I think is worth mentioning. Whatever the reasons, even great TEs haven't made that huge of an impact in their rookie seasons, so a poor showing by Fleener in year 1 certainly doesn’t exclude him from having a major leap forward in year 2. Here’s a comparison of the year 1 and year 2 stats for the 5 best TEs still playing from the above list:
Gonzalez: year 1 - 33 / 368 / 2 | year 2 - 59 / 621 / 2
Gates: year 1 - 24 / 389 / 2 | year 2 - 81 / 964 / 13
Witten: year 1 - 35 / 347 / 1 | year 2 - 87 / 980 / 6
Graham: year 1 - 31 / 356 / 5 | year 2 - 99 / 1,310 / 11
Gronkowksi: year 1 - 42 / 546 / 10 | year 2 - 90 / 1,327 / 17
The year 1 to 2 jump for these 5 players was incredibly dramatic, in the case of Graham his total yards quadrupled in his second season. I’m sure there are plenty of examples of tight ends making smaller jumps forward, in fact it’s probably more reasonable an expectation (even Gonzalez, the most productive TE of all time, showed a less dramatic increase, although his rookie year was 1997 and he wouldn’t have benefited from the current pass happy climate; he did surpass 800 in his 3rd season and 1,200 in his 4th), but if Fleener is ever going to have elite production at TE in this league, recent history seems to suggest it happens pretty quickly. This is Fleener’s prorated line for last season if he’d played 16 games:
Fleener: 35 / 375 / 3
That compares pretty reasonably to some of these other rookie stat lines. Nate is probably totally right that we should expect about the same performance from Fleener in 2013 that he had in 2012, that’s the safe bet, but history does show that it’s not unprecedented for a TE to make a major leap in his 2nd year. What may be missing from all this though is just how good Allen was last season, his rookie line of 45 / 521 / 3 puts him right up there with Rob Gronkowski for best first year campaign of the bunch.
@hankster What about that has you worried? Stanford plays very, very tough football ... But they have always determined the pass/run proportions and the length of passes by the talent on the field. And they do tend to play clever football ... Not just try to have a guy rush straight ahead play after play when they are not getting anything. I think they will be much better than under Arians. I really do ... But we will see.
@hankster @Nate Dunlevy I don't disagree with anything said above. I don't care that they may have overpaid. I don't think the Colts have taken any risks that will cost them significantly long-term. I think they did well to spread around their investments. They had to spend money; I get that.
I think I mostly take issue with the Colts' "run defense first" philosophy in FA signings and then to pretend that Walden will be an adequate replacement for Freeney. But, I don't remember thinking that there was anyone available in free agency that the Colts just had to have. Really, in the end, it may just come down to the fact that there were no real options for the Colts in FA and they plan on addressing my concerns (because dammit, I know better than them) in the draft.
Yeah, I'll go with that.
I base this on how good Luck is, how I don't see the Colts having a threat outside the lines, believing that Fleener will really make the season two jump and the offense the Colts will run this season.
@Nate Dunlevy @Colt_Following @DougEngland @smonroe Well, I think there is a better chance that this season's offense will give Coby that sort of opportunity that that Arians' would ... Based on the fact that the Stanford offense under Pep does feature the TEs ... That's been a constant for several years.
1. Having done the TE research for What to Expect last year, you are absolutely correct. Year One has no real predictive value for TEs. That's not true at some positions (OT), but very true for TEs.
2. TE tends to be dominated by a handful of elites.
So, all in all, I agree with your research and math.
Fleener COULD make a jump and become super-elite. I don't know that the Indy offense will make him that kind of target.