Bio not provided
Sounds like part of his problem was lack of practice time. Remember he didn't join the Colts until after the season started, so he didn't have any training camp or other off season opportunities to work with Luck or learn the very complicated playbook. That doesn't excuse poor route running or drops, but probably limited his assignments while hindering Luck's ability to find and hit him.
Two other questions I'm curious about with Rogers: (1) would he be eligible for the practice squad this year? and (2) is he a plausible option for returning kicks or punts? With Reed, Vaughn, and Brazill gone and T.Y. hopefully too valuable, seems like Whalen is basically the incumbent for both return spots. Could be a key factor in which one the Colts keep, or in deciding whether to keep both instead of an extra guy somewhere else.
2 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/
@bengundy @ECB Thanks.I'd have expected that role to have been more common.
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/
Why the distinction between lead blocks and kick-outs? They certainly are different, but both are important. And if Havili is kicking out, that frees up someone else to either lead block or double team.
The decline of NFL RB valuation is an interesting study. The increased importance of the passing game is surely part of it, but a typical starting RB still gets the ball twice as often as even the most prolific WRs. I suggest that a bigger reason is that teams are realizing that (1) there isn't a huge difference between the 5th RB in the league and the 50th; (2) it is difficult to predict RB success. And (3) career trajectory for an RB is faster than other positions. It is not unusual for a rookie to be among the league rushing leaders, but they also wear out faster so that it is rare for an RB to keep playing at a high level much beyond his rookie contract. By the time they're eligible for free agency, teams figure they're on their last legs and don't offer long term contracts. So even a solid starter gets get paid less than a rookie 1st round pick. And the 1st rounders are far from sure things - Richardson is just the latest of a long line of top 5 picks whose NFL careers were so-so or worse.
Basicallly, a team can usually assemble a decent set of RBs with a combination of mid to late round picks and bargain free agents. Investing in 1st rounders or expensive free agents gives maybe a slightly better chance of finding the next superstar, but that's outweighed by all the expensive busts. Most teams that pursue the expensive route won't end up with much better quality than those that follow the cheap route. So they're learning to invest their money and 1st round picks on positions that are easier to predict, and where there isn't a glut of talent.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/14364.html
I expect a big reason for the decline in percentages is that defenses adjusted to the Colts' tendencies. 2012 defenses expected the Colts to pass alot, and their focus on stopping it made it easier to run. In 2013 they expected the Colts to run more and therefore focused on stopping the run. I'm curious about the Colts' success percentage when they passed on 3rd down, particularly in short yardage situations. I expect it improved in 2013 for the same reason the running success declined.
2 months ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/cacp-third-down-series-running-the-ball-on-third-down.html
@Bobman1 @ECB Just to clarify, I think Brown was allowed to leave with little apparent effort to keep him because he never showed himself to be a premier running back. Even last year he was a good guy to have around, but no one was talking about him for the pro bowl, or even as a guy the Colts should keep around as their long term starter. If he had come back, it'd have been as a change of pace guy. Nice to have, but not worth a first round pick.
3 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/uncategorized/colts-go-back-to-work-four-things-to-keep-an-eye-on-in-2014.html
Trent Richardson needs more than a Donald Brown-type resurgence. Brown had a decent career with the Colts, but never reached the kind of quality you'd like to see from a first round pick - which was why the Colts decided not to bring him back. It'd be nice if Richardson at least reached a Brown-type level, but he was brought in to be much better than that.
@Stuebers_Inn @ECBThanks, that makes sense. Figured someone around here would know the answer.
4 months ago on Colts 2014 Draft Order Finalized
What happened to the other 7th round pick? I recall we traded one to SF for Cam Johnson, but I thought we'd gotten one from Dallas for Caesar Rayford.
I wonder if he is the reason we haven't signed a free agent NT to replace Aubrayo Franklin. I recall Pagano initially talking about him as a DE, but he has the size for NT and seems to have had his best performance there so far.
4 months ago on Dregs of the Roster: Montori Hughes Film Review
@GeorgeCostanzaIII @ECBPass protection could certainly be better, and I suspect it will be with Thomas and Allen plus a more experienced Thornton. But any NFL team will have some weak spots, and those can be compensated for in various ways. My point is that you don't have to be solid at every position, and in fact can't be.
4 months, 1 week ago on Colts Authority Fireside Chats: Grading Grigson's Shopping Spree
@Payton @ECBI largely agree with your analysis of the 2009 team, and that is basically my point - you can't be stocked at every position, and you don't need to be to have a lot of success. In the salary cap era, the key is being able to compensate for those holes elsewhere. And even if a position starts out as a strength, it can become a liability due to injuries - consider corners in 2009 or receivers last year. The Colts are coming off a year in which they won their division and a playoff game, and beat both Super Bowl teams plus another team that barely lost the league championship. And they did it despite some serious injury losses.
I'm hoping they do add another veteran guard or center, and expect that they will. But probably not a stud. But their line will likely be much better anyway because Thomas and Allen will be back, Thornton will have a year of experience, and Holmes/Costa/mystery pickup can't be much worse than Satele at center.
I'm not getting this "team full of holes" meme. Look back at the Colts' roster from when they actually went to the Super Bowl in 2009. Their offensive line was Jeff Saturday and four stop-gap to average players. Gijon Robinson was a starter. Defensive tackles were a collection of guys we'd grabbed off other teams' practice squads. Jacob Lacey was a key member of the secondary. But they came heartbreakingly close to both a Super Bowl win and an undefeated season because they played well together and had Peyton Manning and some other great players.
Colts don't need to bring in a big name free agent at center, safety, or anywhere else to be a Super Bowl contender. They're contenders because of Andrew Luck and a great corp of receivers and Robert Mathis. The D should be much better this year because they'll have had more time to gell after all of last year's additions. And the O was outstanding despite missing two pro bowl-quality receivers most of the year.
Interesting that they are loading up the cap hit next year instead of this year. That allows them to make another big signing or so this year, but taking the hit this year would let them make another signing or two next year.
4 months, 1 week ago on Breaking Down the Colts' Free Agent Contract Structures
Grigson shouldn't draft a WR unless he see someone he thinks is likely to be a special player. For now we have two very good WRs, two serviceable ones, and an intriguing project. It'd be nice to have a better third WR now, and to have a guy who can step up as a star when Wayne retires - e.g. another T.Y. Hilton-quality find. But unless he sees a "I can't believe this guy is still there" type player, we have more pressing needs for the 2nd & 3rd rounders, and a later round pick is unlikely to yield a player significantly better than any of the five we already have.
5 months, 2 weeks ago on CA Draft Position Overviews: Wide Receiver
I feel better about the players and coaches as a whole because they've now put together two playoff seasons, including a win. This year showed that last year wasn't just a fluke fueled by the emotions surrounding Pagano's illness.
On the other hand, I have less confidence in Grigson. Last year he looked like a miracle worker, at least in the draft. This year I'm hoping he can learn from his mistakes, and probably bring in someone who specializes in evaluating veteran talent. That seems to be a major weakness.
5 months, 3 weeks ago on Fireside Chats with Colts Authority
@Lou Pin @ECBThat's a possibility. But Brown seems like an ideal change of pace back. He did okay as a starter, but had several games where he pretty much disappeared. He'd be a great complement to either Richardson or Ballard if they pan out, but I don't see him as an ideal replacement if they aren't.
5 months, 4 weeks ago on Bowen: how the heck did Indy beat Seattle?
I dunno, RB is actually one of the positions that worries me the most for the Colts next year. Ballard's coming off an ACL reconstruction, and a lot of guys are never quite the same after those. An NFL RB depends so much on his ability to make sharp cuts and accelerate rapidly that just a slight loss of quickness can make a big impact. Sometimes guys come back and have great years, e.g. Adrian Peterson, but that's a rare exception. I expect Ballard to play, but it'll be a very pleasant surprise if he can match his 2012 output.
And hopefully Trent Richardson will be earning a big share of carries, but I'm not terribly optimistic about that either.
As I understand Pagano & co, they aren't saying the Colts have to have an elite running game & run defense, but that they have to be good at those things. They need to be able to do it consistently. They also have to be able to pass very well, but that is pretty much a given with Luck at QB. Building a strong running attack means that they make sure their guys can run block, and keep the running game as a (not "the") focus of the offense so they get and stay good at it. That'll keep defenses from doing what they need to do to stop Andrew Luck's passing.
Not many teams have won Super Bowls without solid running games. Even fewer have done it without solid passing games. An elite passing game is more likely to get you there than an elite running game, but you need to be solid at both. Of course, the real dynasties have tended to have both - Troy Aikman & Emmit Smith, Joe Montana & Roger Craig, Terry Bradshaw & Franco Harris, Roger Staubach & Tony Dorsett. Maybe include John Elway & Terrell Davis.
Of course, this doesn't mean the Colts have to regularly use a fullback. There's other ways of maintaining a strong running game.
6 months ago on Franchise Building: It's All About Efficiency
@thejoshbakerAnd what if next October Luck breaks his arm or something and misses a bunch of games? With a Hasselback, we'd expect to still win half or more of those and still be in position for a playoff run when Luck returns. With a Painter who doesn't have the ability to win, the season's basically over.
Though admittedly there is a middle ground. An Orlovsky could probably keep the Colts in contention and cost much less than Hasselback.
6 months, 1 week ago on Grigson, Colts Entering Crucial, Defining Off-season
Run the Ball, Stop the Run is absolutely the right mantra for Pagano & co. going forward. If the Colts are going to win a Super Bowl anytime soon, they must make major improvements to their running game, and probably to their run defense. Note that the teams who are still playing are all pretty good at running the football, as were most of the other playoff teams. There were a few years where offenses briefly found a way to win championships without effective running, but it looks like that time is over. Even the Colts this year were 10-2 when Luck threw for less than 300 yards and 1-4 when he threw for more.
The problem was not that the Colts tried to be a power running team, it was that they were terrible at it. Part of that was losing Thomas, Allen, Bradshaw & Ballard, but the guys who actually played didn't get it done. Same thing on the defensive side - Grigson may have brought in a bunch of guys to be run stuffers, but you'd never have guessed that watching them play this year.
Assuming that they can sign McAfee, the Colts ought to keep Vinatieri around as long as he can kick, and then bring in another old reliable guy to replace him. One of the great advantages of having a punter like McAfee is that you don't need a placekicker who can kickoff. He could even handle the long field goals if those start to be a problem.
With both Moala and Mathews, I'd offer a short term deal near league minimum. They're both solid backups who can provide depth if needed, but I'd like to see the Colts bring in some D-linemen with more upside.
If we're going to lose a safety, I'd much rather it be Landry. Wonder if the cap situation makes sense to cut him and use the money to re-sign Bethea.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on Hayes: Free agent questions for Indy
Kind of amazing the Pats have even fewer guys from that 2007 game than we do.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on Colts Playoff Notebook: Pep Talks
I had similar feelings watching at home with my 13 and 6 yr old boys. Told them to cherish this team and the special things we have come to expect from them. It is very rare, though they have been common in Indy for the past decade except in the playoffs and the mercifully short Painter interregnum. Also told the 6 yr old to expect to regularly see that highlight of Luck's fumble recovery TD until he's well into his 20's.
6 months, 3 weeks ago on Growing Up Before My Eyes
Another reason to root for the Chargers this weekend is that they are the only team the Colts could potentially play at home after this weekend. That'd be a nice consolation if they beat Peyton. Assuming that the Colts win the war of 12-12, of course.
6 months, 3 weeks ago on Coping with Conflict
On that screen to Rogers, I think that's on Rogers rather than the blockers. Pulling O-linemen are taught not to look back or slow down when they're pulling. The runner should be right behind them, so that if the lineman doesn't find a blocking target, the runner doesn't find a tackler. If they slow down to look around, they get in the runner's way and can mess up a big play. If Rogers followed his pullers like he was supposed to do, then they would have been in the way of the pursuing linebackers, and Fleener's CB and the safety would have been running into the blocking path where the pullers could have seen them and picked them off.
7 months, 1 week ago on CA Charting Project: Charting the Colts' Offensive Line, Week 15
I disagree that the Colts' record is inflated by "throwing out the records" of their opponents. The Colts' own division may be down this year, but their schedule has otherwise been pretty tough, playing two of the NFL's deepest divisions and plus drawing games vs. likely playoff teams Cincy and Miami. While they have been awful vs. good teams, they've also been great against the league's best, and usually taken care of business against weaker teams. A 9-5 team should struggle vs. teams with better records, but the Colts are 3-0 vs teams with 10 or more wins. They should generally split vs. teams with comparable records, but the Colts are 0-4 vs. teams with 7 to 9 wins. And they should mop up against weaker teams, which the Colts have done, going 6-1 against teams with 6 or fewer wins. Though admittedly that loss was really ugly.
If they'd lost to all the teams who are currently at 9 or more wins and lost to those with less, they'd be 9-5. If they'd split the games vs. 9-5 teams (Cards & Bengals), they'd actually be 10-4. Looked at another way, the Colts are 3-2 vs. teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, and 6-3 vs. the rest of the league. One could actually argue that ignoring the records of their opponents makes the Colts' record look worse than it is.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Monday Morning Moaner: Colts vs Texans
I think the two huge problems would be the travel and the fact that most players will have a strong preference to play in the USA. They'll do it if that's what they have to do to play pro football, but I'd expect European teams to be at a major competitive disadvantage with any sort of free agency.
Eventually I think we'll see something like the Canadian Football League in Europe. There will be plenty of Americans willing to live in Europe in order to play professional football. Usually after they give up on their NFL dreams. I believe that sort of arrangement is common in basketball and hockey - lots of 2nd tier American players go over there while some of the top Europeans come here.
1 year, 1 month ago on Considering the Role of Player Health in NFL Expansion to Europe
@cwjwl You can run a solid 3-4 without a pass rushing DE, but it is a great asset to have one.
1 year, 3 months ago on Colts' Biggest Needs Post-Free Agency
Don't forget DE. It looks like we have solid starters and perhaps depth there, but a 3-4 really hums when it has a pass rushing DE, which we don't have. Plus Redding probably doesn't have too many good seasons left in him.
The system is actually set up so that every team plays four first place teams, four second place teams, four third place teams, and four fourth place teams from the year before. Everyone plays two complete divisions, and the two "parity" games actually just replace your own spot within your division. So the Colts last year got to play the last place teams from the AFC North and West, but couldn't play the fourth place team from their own division because it was themselves. This year they get two out-of-division games vs. 2nd place teams because they can't play the 2nd place team in their own division.
1 year, 5 months ago on The Myth of Parity Scheduling in the NFL
Another approach the Colts should take is to "bank" some of this cap space for the future. This can be done by structuring contracts to count bonuses in the year paid rather than over the entire length of the contract. There is a limit to how much a team can improve itself with one free agent class - as Grigson's former team has demonstrated. But stretching out the cap space can keep the window from Luck's rookie contract open for an extra year or two.
1 year, 5 months ago on The Colts' unique situation heading into Free Agency
@Colt_Following @jelewin I hope they bring Collie back. It'll probably come down to whether someone else wants to pay him the top dollars it looked like he was worth before he got his concussions in 2010. If not, the Colts should hold onto him.
1 year, 5 months ago on Team Needs - Offense
As with many of our free agents, the decision on Powers probably comes down to price. He seems a shoo-in to make the roster, and would be a starter unless we bring in at least one new corner who is pretty good. Question is whether he's worth the money, and with the Colts in pretty good financial shape for a change, that will come down to whether someone else decides he's worth more to them than the Colts think he's worth to them. My guess is that someone is going to significantly overpay him compared to his value as a Colt. Corner is usually a pretty hot market for free agency, he seems better suited towards other schemes, and he only has one season invested in learning the Colts' current system. So where we'd be viewing him as a tolerable #2, someone is going to see him as a decent #1 or solid #2. I doubt we match them.
1 year, 6 months ago on Colts Offseason Outlook - Should the Colts re-sign CB Jerraud Powers?
@AJ_ I'd actually point to a different reason why the O-line wasn't a priority when Peyton was here - he didn't need one, so Polian prioritized other positions. Between his quick release, phenomenal ability to read defenses, and in-depth knowledge of his own offense and receivers, Peyton needed very little time in the pocket to be highly effective. Despite playing his last few years here behind a patchwork line, he averaged over twelve wins a season, seldom got sacked, and didn't even get hit all that much. And when the Colts couldn't run the ball, he could make up for it with a reliable short passing game. So Polian was able to keep focusing his high draft picks on skill players and defense, and try to stock the O-line with late round picks and UFAs.
Of course, it didn't help that many of the linemen picked in the late Polian years were busts. But the line would not have been dominant even if we'd gotten above average value with the picks we used on linemen instead of Ugoh, Pollack, McClendon, et al.
1 year, 7 months ago on Indianapolis Colts' 2013 Free Agency Preview: Offensive Line
@AJ_ Culpepper was already on the team when George was there. My understanding was that George was very eager to re-sign, but they were unwilling to offer a multi-year contract, and didn't have cap space to offer much in a one year deal. Basically they wanted to get the QB of the future onto the field.
Too bad as I recall they went to the NFC championship game with Culpepper and probably would have gone further with George, who was a much better QB by that point in his career. Having a QB with his arm throwing to Moss & Carter with a solid O-line and RB was amazing.
1 year, 8 months ago on 5 Reasons It’s Awesome To Be A Fan Of The Colts
@AJ_ As a former Viking fan, I did love the year Jeff George played in Minnesota. Glad I missed his stint here in Indy though.
They'll have to keep improving to do it, but the Colts also have a serious shot at winning the division. Just sweep Houston and match the Texans' record in the other five games.
1 year, 8 months ago on Colts Monday Musings: Playoffs? Playoffs?! We're talking about Playoffs, Man | November
I've always thought the blackout rule was pretty stupid because it generates too much ill will for the limited impact on ticket sales. But if it was dumb for the league to do it, it is ten times worse for an individual team to do it. If the Colts got blacked out because of a league rule, people would blame the NFL for having a dumb rule that keeps them from watching their favorite team. But now that it is the Colts themselves doing it, the anger will get directed at the team and probably have a negative impact on the fan base. I doubt it will be an issue this year - 2,000 tickets should be pretty easy to sell individually. But if the Colts ever do black out a game, I think Mr. Irsay will come to regret this decision.
2 years ago on Fed Up Isn't Fair Weather | July
@BlueAndWhite17 I do still go there occasionally because it is still a good source of news about the Colts. Even the post discussed here actually has some good info and analysis included. But Wells has gotten really annoying with his schtick of repeating the same outrageously exaggerated claims ("Indiana sports fans are fickle," "Bill Polian destroyed the Colts by busting all his draft picks") in every post.
2 years ago on Are you Buying what the Colts are Selling? | July
Two attributes Indiana fans tend to value very highly are hard work and playing smart. Think of our biggest heroes here: Peyton Manning, Larry Bird, A.J. Foyt. It was a theme of the "Hoosiers" movie. Look at the enthusiasm for Butler's recent NCAA runs. Even Bobby Knight, though his national reputation was a chair-throwing bully, was loved locally because his teams always played great fundamental basketball & had high graduation rates. I sense that Irsay recognizes that and is bringing in people who will develop that kind of team. Andrew Luck so far seems to exemplify those values.
2 years ago on Winning Over a City and Growing a Fanbase, Part III | June
I'm not sure how relevant the other pro sports teams are to the intensity of fan support. The Packers may have Green Bay to themselves, but most Packer fans are from elsewhere in Wisconsin. Pittsburgh seemed pretty nuts about the Penguins during the Lemieux era. At any rate, I don't see that the Pacers are much of a threat. This has been a basketball state, but it's been a high school and college basketball state. A Final Four appearance by an Indiana school generates comparable excitement to a Pacer title run.
I think the real key is that the Colts need to establish a great image that fits the city. Steelers have that great image of blue collar toughness that ties in with their city's position as a steel town. Packers have that image of playing in the frozen tundra. Colts during the Manning/Dungy era have built an image of winning with lots of "high character" players, which Irsay, Grigson & co. seem intent on continuing. It fits well with the city's image as a great place to raise a family.
2 years, 1 month ago on Winning Over a City and Growing a Fanbase, Part II | June
Two other thoughts occur to me regarding fullbacks in our new offense. First, remember that "spider 2 Y banana" play that Gruden was raving about how much Stanford used it in his interview with Luck? It was a play action pass to the FB. I believe Fleener was the FB on some of those on the film, but it wouldn't work unless he was frequently making a kick-out block on an off tackle run. Second, wasn't Arians' decision not to use a fullback one of the reasons he was unpopular in Pittsburgh? Suggests we have a QB who often threw to FBs in college and an OC who doesn't like to use them. Wonder whether we'll frequently see Fleener or Allen line up at H-back, motion into the backfield, and either kick-out on a run or fake the kick-out on a play-action. I'm sure Arians would have a few other wrinkles in the series as well.
2 years, 1 month ago on To Use or Not to Use: The Forgotten Fullback | May
I see the point of this, but it makes me more skeptical of the Brody Eldridge cut. At the time I thought that made sense because there weren't enough roster spots available to keep a blocking TE who wasn't a receiving threat if they were planning on using two receiving TEs and a FB on a regular basis. And the FB would fill roughly the role that Eldridge would have had. But without a FB it seems like there is room for an Eldridge-type blocker as well as a back-up receiving TE, and that there will be plenty of situations where it would be helpful to have a guy like Eldridge on the field.
2 years, 1 month ago on Kuharsky hates the fullback | Articles
@Kyle Rodriguez @naptown_ninja I think the blame for bad special teams has to go much more to Caldwell than Polian. Aside from the three specialists, your special team players are going to be your offensive and defensive back-ups. They're on your team because they're the 4th WR or the 3rd OLB. Most teams are going to have pretty similar talent level at those spots because if someone else's third string is better than your second string, you sign those third stringers when they get cut. Special team ability on most teams is a tie breaker to see which marginal players get to stick around. Occasionally you get someone who sticks because they're especially good on special teams, but Polian did pick up a few of those guys - think Taj Smith or Aaron Fransisco. He also brought it some late round picks and free agents who were supposed to be good return men. But they didn't pan out. Polian also made sure we had good people at the specialist positions - think how much worse our return game would have been if he'd tried out UFA's instead of drafting McAfee.
What does make a big difference is the emphasis that the HC puts on special teams. How much practice time do they get? How many players are off-limits to the special teams because of their value on O or D? When you're making roster recommendations, how important is special teams ability to your evaluation? I don't get the impression that those things were a particularly high priority during the Caldwell era.
2 years, 2 months ago on The 2011 Colts Special Teams: The Good, Ugly, and Just Plain Awful | May
You know your special teams are bad when you always root for touchbacks regardless of which team is kicking.
I expect the Colts will keep a TE or two beyond Fleener, Allen & Eldridge, at least on the practice squad. If you're going to use two tight ends with two pass-catchers and also with a blocking specialist, you need to have some backups for them.
2 years, 2 months ago on Colts roster growing | Articles
@LukeNukem The Texans went 7-3 with Schaub and 3-4 with Yates, though Yates' wins were oddly all over playoff teams while his regular season losses were here and at home to the Panthers & Titans. But I'd count Yates at the low end of the "typical" range with Schaub at the high end of that. I think a better example of what I'm talking about is the Patriots going 11-5 after Brady went down in game 1, or the success the Packers have had when Rodgers has been out.
But the larger point is that it is very hard to predict how an NFL team will do. We have just seen our team finish an exceptionally long stretch of consistent success, but most teams bounce up and down. Remember last year at this time the Bengals looked so bad coming off a 4-12 season that their star QB insisted he'd rather retire than play for them again. He looked pretty foolish when they made the playoffs without him.
Many things have to go well for the Colts to have a strong season: Pagano needs to revitalize the defense, many defensive players have to adjust and thrive in the new scheme, the new QB and a few of the new receivers need to have an immediate impact, the O-line needs to gell and its young players need to develop quickly. But all those things could happen, and if they do we can make a playoff run.
2 years, 2 months ago on Hopeful Fodder - What if We're Wrong? | Articles
@LukeNukem My point is that the 2010 and 2011 teams had comparable talent outside the QB position. The 2010 teams' wins were inflated by a few games by stellar QB play while the 2011 wins were diminished by abysmal QB play. I expect that Peyton was usually worth 2-3 wins a year over a typical NFL starter, Painter & co. probably lost us 4-5 that a typical QB would have won, and there's probably a difference of a game or two within the typical range. These estimates are based on a couple decades of watching NFL teams continue to play well and win games when a star QB is replaced by a quality backup, but collapsing with incompetent ones - sometimes even the same time when a quality backup goes down and is replaced by a lousy #3, or a lousy backup is replaced by a quality veteran. So I'd expect a typical QB to have won around 7-8 games both years. Barring another rash of injuries, I would expect the 2012 Colts to have a similar or better non-QB talent level, so if Andrew Luck can play at the level of a typical NFL QB, we ought to win around 7 or 8 games. If he exceeds that and the team wins more than its share of close ones, then we get the 10 wins that usually qualify for the playoffs.
Another way to reach the same conclusion is to compare the 2011 team with the 2010 team. With the concentration of injuries the 2010 team had at the offensive skill positions and defensive secondary, a strong argument can be made that the 2011 team was actually stronger at every position except QB and CB. But the 2010 team won the division. That's obviously with spectacular rather than merely solid QB play, but it seems reasonable to expect that a healthy Peyton Manning would have gotten the 2011 team at least into playoff contention. If Andrew Luck can hit the ground running and Pagano can re-kindle this team's ability to win close games, a 2012 playoff run is not out of the question.