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@Wizop There are plenty of different strategies for assembling a championship NFL team, but any of them require great execution. Polian''s strategy of constantly building through the draft worked great as long as he was finding a star and a few solid starters to draft every year. When the draft quality went down, he started having to resign more and more veterans because there wasn't anything in the pipeline behind them. Then those guys got hurt or got old, and the team ended up eating lots of dead cap.
I think Grigson's big problem with free agency hasn't been so much the quality of player as the price. Take $500k-$1million per year off those contracts and his free agency record looks pretty good. No really transformative players, but there haven't been too many of those elsewhere either.
1 week ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/release-of-rjf-exemplifies-colts-free-agent-struggles.html
This is a pretty solid analysis. One addition I'd make is that the draft can provide impact players down the road, but it's a mistake to count on rookies to be more than marginal starters/quality depth. Sometimes they do become quality starters or even stars as rookies, but it is rare and difficult to predict. I'd like to see the first round pick go for D-line or ILB, but they aren't likely to supplant the starters at those positions as rookies.
1 week, 6 days ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/ca-offseason-primer-how-should-the-colts-address-their-various-needs.html
I'm not sure this is really much of a change. I'd say the pattern is that when the Colts make a significant investment to get someone, they typically give two years for the player to show what they can do. Since the new regime is only three years old there is a limited sample size, but I'd point to Satele and McGlynn as prior examples. And that second year can pay off as the player gets a full year with the system and/or recovers from injury problems. Toler, Walden, Werner and RJF all played much better in 2014 than 2013. I expect others who didn't will soon be gone.
2 weeks, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/bye-bye-laron.html
@TravisMeeks Vontae Davis. Not technically a draft selection, but a good use of a 2nd round pick. Really Grigson hasn't used the draft much for defense. Only picks in rounds 1-5 on D have been Chapman, Werner, Hughes, and Newsome. Newsome could turn out to be a big difference maker.
1 month, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/ca-offseason-primer-nfl-draft.html
This was supposed to be a reply to TravisMeeks below.
One point about Manning's stats relative to the rest of the league - his early years were probably the lowest point for NFL quarterbacking in many decades while Luck is emerging while the league is loaded with top QBs. When Manning entered the league, the QBs who dominated the 90's were retired or on their last few years - Montana, Marino, Elway, Aikman, Young. And the QBs who have dominated in the new century were still in college or hadn't emerged as NFL stars. The other QBs on the league leaders list in 2000 were guys like Jeff Garcia, Dante Culpepper, and Elvis Grbac. Brett Favre was the only future hall of fame QB playing at a high level then. Luck is competing with at least four future hall of famers (Peyton, Brady, Rodgers, Brees) a few others who will at least get consideration (Eli, Rothlisberger) plus other young QBs who may be on the road to that level.
2 months ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/eyes-in-the-backfield-colts-27-titans-10.html
How about Robert Mathis? Easily the Colts' defensive MVP and the source of most of their pass rush last year. They still lead their division without him, but have struggled against top QBs as they've relied on blitzing for their pass rush. They'd probably be regarded as prime Super Bowl contenders if he were playing.
2 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://bloguin.com/thisgivensunday/2014-articles/10-injuries-that-have-most-affected-this-season.html
I'm curious what you thought of our offensive line play. No sacks, but there were several plays where Luck threw it away as he was going down, and a bunch more where he barely got the ball off before getting drilled (often completing those, impressively). Plus the RBs were routinely having to dodge defenders in the backfield and/or running into a wall at the line of scrimmage.
5 months ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/week-4-report-card-colts-vs-titans.html
Not sure whether this is a hopeful or discouraging note, but Andrew Luck's struggles last night were not terribly atypical of his first half performances in the past. Probably half the games last year he struggled early, but in about half of those he led big comebacks in the 2nd half. That's frequently been blamed on Pep calling too many power formations early and then opening things up when they get behind, but we didn't see a whole lot of either fullbacks or hand-offs in the first half last night.
6 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/preseason-recap-and-observations-colts-17-saints-23.html
I doubt they keep four RBs this year. Last year they did early on because the fourth guy was both a draft pick and a return man, but most of the year they only had three on the active roster. Rainey had a pretty good shot at making the team as the fourth RB because of his return skills and his ability to add a different wrinkle as an occasional change of pace back. But unless either T-Rich or Bradshaw are banged up, or if Herron and Tipton (or one of the new guys) both stand out as someone they don't want to risk losing, I expect the Colts will start the year with 3 RBs and a fourth on the practice squad.
Which makes it more likely that another roster spot will be available for a 4th TE, 6th WR, 3rd QB, 10th O-line, or perhaps a similar "extra" defensive player.
7 months ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/2014-articles/fantasy-roster-and-real-football-implications-from-vick-ballards-injury.html
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.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://coltsauthority.com/
@bengundy @ECB Thanks.I'd have expected that role to have been more common.
8 months, 2 weeks 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.
9 months 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.
9 months, 1 week 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.
10 months, 2 weeks 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.
11 months, 1 week 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.
11 months, 2 weeks 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.
11 months, 2 weeks 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.
11 months, 3 weeks 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.
1 year 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.
1 year 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.
1 year, 1 month 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.
1 year, 1 month 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.
1 year, 1 month 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.
1 year, 1 month ago on Hayes: Free agent questions for Indy
Kind of amazing the Pats have even fewer guys from that 2007 game than we do.
1 year, 1 month 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.
1 year, 1 month 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.
1 year, 2 months 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.
1 year, 2 months 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.
1 year, 2 months 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, 8 months 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, 11 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.
2 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years, 1 month 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.
2 years, 1 month 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.
2 years, 2 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.
2 years, 3 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.
2 years, 3 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, 7 months 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, 7 months ago on Are you Buying what the Colts are Selling? | July