Editor's Note: Please welcome Andrew Ross, who will be working with Colts Authority in the coming offseason. For his first work for us, Andrew put together all of the key dates for the 2014 offseason (those of which are currently available, anyway). So use this as your guide to all of the NFL's biggest deadlines and events this offseason. And welcome Andrew, both here and on Twitter, to the Colts Authority community. - KJR
The 2013 NFL season is already over for 30 teams; only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks remain. Some fans stay trapped in the misery of a disappointing season – especially one that ends abruptly – but fans of the Indianapolis Colts should show no such sorrow. The Colts are one of the most promising up-and-coming teams in the league, and the future is fun to look forward to. So, yes, the 2013 season is over, but the 2014 season will be here shortly. Now is the time to start looking ahead to the first moves of the new season.
February 3: Waiver system begins for 2014
February 17: First day to name Franchise and Transition Players
February 19-25: Combine timing and testing held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana
March 3: Before 4:00 p.m. EST, last day to name Franchise or Transition Players
March 8-11: Teams are allowed to contact and enter contract negotiations with the agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents on March 11
March 11: Before 4:00 p.m. EST, teams must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts.
March 11: Before 4:00 p.m. EST, teams must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 11: Teams must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2013 contracts and who have fewer than three Accrued Seasons of free agency credit.
March 11: All teams must be under the 2014 Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m. EST.
March 11: All 2013 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m. EST
March 11: The 2014 League Year and Free Agency period officially begin at 4:00 p.m. EST.
-Spotrac’s list of the Colts’ Free Agents: 24 total, 17 Unrestricted Free Agents, five Restricted Free Agents and two Exclusive Rights Free Agents.
March 11: After expiration of all 2013 contracts, the 2014 trading period will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST.
March 23-26: Annual Meeting at Orlando, Florida.
April 7: Teams that hired a new Head Coach after the end of the 2013 regular season may start offseason workout programs.
April 21: Teams with returning Head Coaches may begin offseason workout programs
May 2: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
May 7: Deadline for prior team to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents.
May 8-10: 2014 NFL Draft held at New York City, New York.
-Due to past trades, the Colts only have four picks in the draft: a second, third, fifth (or sixth, depending on the terms for Josh Gordy's trade) and seventh.
May 19-21: NFL Spring League Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.
June 22-28: Rookie Symposium in Aurora, Ohio.
July 15: 4:00 p.m. EST deadline for any team that designated a Franchise Player to sign such a player to a multi-year contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior team for the 2014 season, and the contract cannot be extended until after the team’s last regular season game.
Mid-July: Teams are allowed to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the team’s earlier mandatory date for veteran players. Veteran players – other than quarterbacks and injured players – may report to a team’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the team’s first preseason game. Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to the team’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players.
July 22: Signing period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders.no comments
The Indianapolis Colts are setting a course for 1960. Every level of management, from Jim Irsay to Ryan Grigson to Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton, has cited and emphasized the importance of running the ball and stopping the run. This much cannot be debated at this point. From their defensive free agent choices to the trading for Trent Richardson, the usage of a fullback to the usage of Darrius Heyward-Bey for his ability to block, the Colts have made it very clear what kind of team they wish to be.
What can be debated is whether or not this is the correct way that the Colts should be built going forward. Most of you will know that most of us at Colts Authority vehemently disagree with this philosophy. I know that many of you agree, although not all of you, and certainly not all Colts fans.
So, here it is, once and for all. Why do we hate the run-first philosophy and fundamentally disagree with the style of team that Grigson, Pagano and Irsay want to build?
It all comes down to efficiency.
Looking Toward the Offseason
Yesterday, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson fielded a question about in which specific areas the team needs to improve this offseason. In no less than 357 words (which really isn’t that much), he told everyone that it’s not time to evaluate and discuss team needs yet. It’s time for things like decompressing, not resting on laurels, and for iron sharpening iron.
Grigson said he and the coaches to step away first and then get back together to break things down. “It’s hard to say right now definitively that needs to be fixed, that needs to be fixed,” he said, “even though we have the full body of work at our disposal from all the film we’ve watched, because there’s still emotion involved. So I think you need to step away. We need to have discussions.” Fair enough.
This will come as no surprise, but it wasn’t a banner day for the Colts’ offensive line. Though four linemen were in the 90s in pass-blocking percentage, the usually dependable Anthony Castonzo endured a howler, checking in at 82%. And while Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus both finished an excellent 18/20 in run blocking, the interior of the line was once again horrendous in that area; Hugh Thornton, Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn blew nine, eight, and six run blocks, respectively. The only run that didn’t include at least one blown block by a lineman, tight end, or fullback was Donald Brown’s 16-yard scamper on the Colts’ second-to-last play.
It became glaringly obvious as the game wore on that the Patriots were making the Colts pay for their season-long habit of trying to force square pegs into round holes. Coby Fleener is a terrible run blocker, yet there he was attempting 15 run blocks. He completed only eight and almost single-handedly ruined three early runs, once again driving home how important the re-introduction of Dwayne Allen will be next year (and making one wonder why Jack Doyle didn’t replace Fleener in that role more often). Meanwhile, Brown, who had performed well in pass protection in the second half of the season, was badly overmatched against the Patriots’ bigger, more physical linebackers and gave up two hits and a sack. The Colts had to keep him on the field because he’s far more dangerous than Trent Richardson, and Luck paid the price.
The Patriots didn’t come at the Colts particularly hard with blitzes. They frequently brought only three or four rushers. On top of that, their defensive tackles, who are injury replacements, didn’t offer much pass rush, and left end Rob Ninkovich often appeared to hold back a bit to spy in case Andrew Luck tried to escape the pocket.
The Pats mostly relied on Chandler Jones to get pressure by himself. ESPN credited Jones with just one sack and one hit, but he constantly pushed Castonzo into the Colts’ backfield, speeding up Luck’s internal clock. Many Colts plays looked like this:
The Pats blitz Jamie Collins on that play, and Dont’a Hightower comes on a sort of half-hearted rush. You can see their basic defensive gameplan: a hard drive by Jones that leads to a bump on Luck as he throws and a slow but steady push by the rest of the line, with nowhere for Luck to go if he can’t find an open receiver. Notice how Ninkovich loops all the way around to the right to contain Luck if he scrambles, while Andre Carter (96) holds back a bit on the other side. Though this play resulted in a 22-yard gain when Griff Whalen was able to snag Luck’s lame duck, it could have easily ended in disaster.
Luck ran only once for five yards, which was very much the Patriots’ intention. [Battling the urge to complain about the no-call when Luck was tripped trying to take off for another scramble.] Bill Belichick bet that Jones could generate enough pressure by himself that the rest of his defensive front could play contain, forcing Luck to make mistakes as his mediocre group of receivers struggled to get open in a crowded field. And it worked, to the tune of four picks, three of them on horrendous decisions.
I wrote last week that it would take a better performance than the line had against the Chiefs to beat the Patriots. Put simply, they didn’t get it, which is why the Colts are scattering to their offseason homes instead of getting ready to play the Broncos.
DISCLAIMER: Grading offensive line play is inevitably subjective, since it’s impossible to know assignments and how the linemen are coached. Still, subjective scores provide a useful baseline for qualitative analysis. These scores are based on whether the linemen appeared to succeed in their assignments, based on their apparent targets and how the plays developed. I assign all blocks a grade of ‘+’ (good block), ‘-’ (bad block) or ‘/’ (not involved, usually meaning the lineman couldn’t find anyone to block); ‘/’ plays are not scored. My charting table is included at the bottom of this post. I welcome criticism and commentary.
If you asked me to describe the Ryan Grigson Era in one word, I'd choose "confused."
Grigson, whose first decisions - to cut Manning and the rest of the veterans, and to draft Luck - had been made for him, was lauded in his rookie season for his shrewd off-season signings - retaining Wayne and Mathis and signing UDFA Jerrell Freeman - and a 2012 draft class that borders on legendary.
Since the 2012 draft, Grigson's moves have been uneven at best.
He made trades to bring in Vontae Davis, a good, but inconsistent CB who is about to become a UFA and Trent Richardson, a horrible and inconsistent RB who we're stuck with for the rest of our adult lives.
He spent the GDP of a small European nation on free agents in the 2013 off-season, a vast majority of which could best be described as disappointing.
And he followed up his 2012 draft with a 2013 class that featured one starter - Hugh Thornton, due to injuries - two gentlemen who, despite the Colts having approximately 30% of their active roster on IR, spent the entire season on the inactive list (Montori Hughes and Khaled Holmes) and a guy with no knees who got cut after being arrested for public intoxication (John Boyett).
Despite some of his roster building mistakes, Grigson and the Colts have won 11 regular season games in each of their last two seasons and seem like a safe bet to own the AFC South for at least the next season or two. But if we learned anything during the Polian Era it's that regular season wins don't mean anything (unless people like you? I get confused about these things).
So now, Grigson enters what may prove to be the most vital off-season of his Indianapolis tenure. He will have approximately $40MM in cap space. He will have bad players with contracts ripe for cutting. And he will have a QB who is under a steal of a contract for two years. But Grigson must understand that the Contract Reaper will come calling when Andrew Luck's rookie deal expires and he'll be asking for - and rightfully so - a deal in the Joe Flacco Chicken Nugget Happy Meal™ range.no comments
As we look ahead into the Colts 2014 offseason, one of the key topics of conversation is going to be free agency and the potential 2014 final roster. The Colts are once again loaded with a wealth of cap space, but also have a plethora of needs to fill with 23 players becoming free agents this spring. The Colts needs and potential free agent signings are things that will be talked to death over the next two months, but one thing that can slide under the radar is how much the Colts can potentially free up by cutting individuals.
With the mixed bag that was the 2013 offseason (and by mixed, I mean a rancid mixture of feces and sour milk), readers have often asked me about the potential releases of numerous overpaid Colts in an effort to open up more cap space for a 2014 offseason that "fixes" (too harsh?) past contract mistakes.
So, with that in mind, here are the cap savings and dead money involved in every interesting player on the Colts roster for 2014 and beyond.no comments
The Colts players packed up their lockers yesterday. They said their goodbyes – many with uncertain futures – and reflected on the season they’ve spent together and all the work that went into it.
“It’s the very strange thing about professional athletes,” punter Pat McAfee, who’s contract is up, said yesterday. “Whenever the season is over, you have no idea when you’ll see any of your teammates ever again. It’s always disappointing. It’s kind of like the last day of school but with the last day of school, you probably have another year coming up.
“This, you don’t know if you have another year. You don’t know if guys have another year. You don’t know who is going to retire. You don’t know where anybody is going. It’s always disappointing. But in the NFL, only one team gets to celebrate at the end of the year, and it wasn’t us obviously this year. You just kind of have to deal with it.”