Indianapolis Colts: New GM/Coach?

It’s time.

One year ago today, Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson were resigned as Head Coach and General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts, despite everyone believing that one, if not both, would be sent packing.  Today, following an 8-8 season from the team, and another wasted season of Andrew Luck’s career, many are calling for change.

I’ve compiled a list of several people, for each position, that I think Jim Irsay should go after for the jobs.  These are in no particular order.

Head Coach Candidates:

  • Jim Harbaugh, HC of University of Michigan
    • Harbaugh is at the top of everyone’s list.  Harbaugh seems to make every team that he touches immediately better.  Harbaugh groomed Andrew Luck at Stanford, and has since made a Super Bowl appearance with the 49ers, and more recently led Michigan to one of their best seasons in recent history.  The biggest problem with Harbaugh is that it isn’t very realistic.  He has said that the University of Michigan job was his dream job.  Publicly, he has expressed no desire to leave.  I chock Harbaugh up as a dream.
  • Pete Carmichael, OC of the New Orleans Saints
    • While Carmichael has never served as a Head Coach, his record on the offensive side of the ball is impeccable.  He has been the Offensive Coordinator of the Saints since 2009.  His offenses have never been lower than 6th in total yards.  His passing offense has never been lower than 4th in yards, and has been Top 10 in passing TDs in every season.  The only question about Carmichael, is whether those statistics are more on Sean Payton, or Carmichael.
  • Josh McDaniels, OC of the New England Patriots
    • Josh McDaniels has experience dealing with Hall of Fame-caliber QBs.  I believe that McDaniels could come into Indianapolis and finally get the Colts stagnant offense up to where it should be.  He has Head Coaching experience in Denver back in 2009-2010.  He never had a quality QB during his time in Denver, having to deal with Tim Tebow while he was there.  While coaches that are groomed under Bill Belichick have not historically faired well elsewhere, I believe that McDaniels has a future as a Head Coach.
  • Kyle Shanahan, OC of the Atlanta Falcons
    • Son of Mike Shanahan, Kyle has been an Offensive Coordinator since 2008, being a part of 4 teams during that time.  The past two seasons, he has been with the Atlanta Falcons.  Turning there offense around and into one of the best in the NFL.  It is only a matter of time before Shanahan gets an opportunity as a Head Coach, and in Indianapolis, with Andrew Luck, now may be the time.

General Manager:

  • Peyton Manning, Retired NFL QB
    • Fans want this.  The owner wants this.  However, it remains to be seen whether or not Peyton wants this.  Manning has shown to be an extremely intelligent person, and one day could be a great GM.  That being said, I don’t think he would want to just step into such a high profile role.  He, himself, has said that he would want experience before taking over.  The best idea for Peyton to become GM is for him to come in and sit behind a GM for a year or two, then step into the main role.  That is possible, if the Colts would resign Bill Polian for a short term contract, to have Peyton groom and learn behind one of the best that the Colts have ever seen.  If Manning were hired to step directly into the GM role, I fear that he would be in over his head.
  • Eliot Wolf, Director of Football Operations
    • Wolf is the son of legendary Packers GM, Ron Wolf.  He has been working within the Packers organization since 2004, progressively gaining more and more responsibilities.  Last offseason, teams started showing interest in signing him as GM of their team, but the Packers denied requests for interviews.  Wolf is being interviewed by numerous teams this offseason, and the potential of him being a quality GM is high.  If the Colts want to sign someone who could step in, with experience, and start on Day 1, I believe that Eliot Wolf is the best option for that.

There are other options for each position, but I feel like these guys have the most upside and potential to turn the Colts franchise around from the past two seasons.  The Colts organization is still keeping all its fans in limbo, keep quiet about what they will do.  For now, this is all speculation, but we’ll all know before long.

 

NFL Development League?

CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Troy Vincent, the NFL’s Head of Operations, is putting together a proposal for a new development league for the NFL.  The proposal will formally be presented to the Competition Committee, coaches, and NFL Players Association during the offseason.

Many coaches have voiced their support for a development league, or in-season academy, for new players to use to get more experience.  With many NFL offensive and defensive schemes becoming more and more unique, the players are not getting the experience needed in college.  There has also been talk of wanting to get new referees more field time, in an effort to clean up some bad officiating lately.

Personally, I think this idea is unnecessary.  The NFL hasn’t had a formal “developmental league” since the NFL Europe closed in 2007.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ceased the league calling it “the best business decision”.  The NFL reportedly was losing $30 million a year.

Sure, there have been some very big names that spent time developing in NFL Europe, most notably Kurt Warner, Adam Vinatieri, and James Harrison.  However, the great majority of players that spent time in NFL Europe, never became much in the NFL anyway.

With the NFL requiring players to attend college until after their Junior year, they already have a “developmental league”.  The NFL, because of its rules, has created a league in which they have to spend no money.  The teams don’t have to invest in players that potentially turn out to be nothing more than money down the drain.  If the NFL wants to get referees more experience, I’ve long felt that the NFL and NCAA need to partner, when it comes to college football.

College football is a multi-billion dollar industry now, in which the athletes make nothing.  Now, I’m not going to turn this into a “college athletes need to be paid” post. That will undoubtedly come at a later time. I’m merely suggesting that the NCAA and NFL work together. 

The best way to groom these players, is to have the same rules. If college players learn to play within the same spectrum as their professional counterparts, that alone will drastically improve the transition between college and pro. By changing the rules in college to match the NFL rules, you also have the opportunity to groom referees in the college game. 

As long as you have a rule requiring your future athletes to go to a college, those colleges should be doing everything they can to set up those players for success in the future. College is a learning institution, but when it comes to full-ride scholarship athletes, college is merely a stepping stone. 

The NFL already has the best Developmental League in place, they just have to take advantage of it. 

Was Brady’s Suspension a Blessing in Disguise?

When a federal appeals court reinstated Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” suspension back in April, fans of all NFL teams, except the Patriots, rejoiced. Finally, someone was going to pay the price for numerous cheating scandals since Brady and Belichick joined forces in New England. Whether the suspension was correct for the crime, that didn’t matter. It was the fact that the NFL had finally had enough of the Patriots antics. Finally, the Patriots organization was going to get what, many feel, they had coming to them. 

However, we all forgot that this is the Patriots, and Tom Brady. 

Tom Brady is 39 years old. He’s been in the league since 2000. That’s almost 16 seasons of throwing, running, and getting hit(albeit, not much). By this point, quarterbacks are supposed to start slowing down. Balls not fly as far or straight. Prior injuries are supposed to start rearing their heads. More or less, they are supposed to be on the decline in their career, especially across a whole season. Tom Brady is a typical QB though. 

Through 3 games this season, Brady is completing over 73% of his passes, for 1,319 yards, 12 TDs, and 0 INTS. He has a QB rating of 133.9. True, this is through only a small sampling so far this season, but regardless, Brady is off to have the best season of his career……at 39 years old. 

Peyton Manning looked like a QB at the end of his career last season. His body couldn’t handle a 16-game regular season, and playoff games on top of that. That is a typical QB. Even the future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, couldn’t survive the fight with Father Time. So why hasn’t Brady fallen off…at all?

A couple explanations are possible. It could be the lack of big hits that he’s taken in his career. It could be that, for the most part, Brady has never been the “big long bomb” kind of QB. Whatever the explanation, something is different. 

Personally, I think that the 4-game suspension this season, will come back to bite the NFL. Brady and the Patriots are mad, and on top of that, he’s 4 games fresher than every other starting QB in the league. That means, 4 games less wear and tear on his body. That means when it comes time for the playoffs, Brady is going to be playing better, and fresher, than everyone else. Anyone that isn’t a Patriots fan, may absolutely hate this NFL season from here on out. 

If Brady and Patriots do win the Super Bowl, it will be Brady’s fifth, and he will have been to 7 Super Bowls in just 15 full seasons. That’s unheard of. 

When people ask me to rank the Top 5 QBs of All Time, it’s always been Joe Montana at #1. If Brady somehow turns this season into another Super Bowl appearance, and another Lombardi Trophy, there will be no doubt, that he is the best ever at his position. 

We may be watching history folks. Try to enjoy it.

Colts Continue To Fail

Andrew Luck is a great player, on a bad team, with an even worse coach.  There is no other way to look at it.  The Colts don’t deserve a player like Luck.  The receivers don’t deserve a thrower like Luck.  The defense doesn’t deserve a hero like Luck.  The coaches certainly don’t deserve a player like Luck, to mask their shortcomings.

Sunday was bad.  Play-calling was bad.  Blocking was bad.  Tackling was bad.  Catching was bad.  The only positives were Frank Gore and Andrew Luck.  That’s it.  It feels like every receiver dropped a wide open pass.  Blocking was awful, which is a HUGE testament to how good Luck and Gore are at making plays.  When Gore decided to come to Indy, he had high hopes for a Super Bowl appearance, now he’s just hoping for a playoff appearance.

This team isn’t improved from last season, they are worse.  I tend not to blame the GM, because the personnel hasn’t changed that much.  I blame the coaches, and more specifically, Chuck Pagano.  When the 0-3 Jacksonville Jaguars make your gameplan look silly, you have a problem.  Chuck continues to call short little plays, when they need big yards.  It almost feels like he feels bad, when the Colts are winning.

I mean really, if the Colts are going to have a bad defense, why not bring in an offensive-minded coach, and just try to outscore the other team.  At least then, Andrew Luck would get the appreciation that he deserves.  It’s bad people.  It’s bad when I’m actually finding myself rooting for the Colts to lose, just so Jim Irsay might finally do what he should have done back in January.  I don’t want the Colts to lose, but I want Chuck gone.  I’ve wanted him gone since the 2014 season AFC Championship game where the Colts looked like they hadn’t prepared at all.  I wanted him gone before that, but Andrew Luck was making him look good, so no one would say it.

The only saving grace yesterday, was that the Colts at least fought back, like they always do.  Someone has to get to this team and explain that if you play the first 3 quarters, you won’t have to be superheroes in the 4th.  This idea of waiting until the 4th Quarter for the coaches to let Andrew Luck out of his cage is idiotic.  No other team in the league gameplans like the Colts.  Come out slow, and then when everyone has given up on us, try to make a comeback.  Being known for late game heroics is cute for awhile, now it’s a seriously problem.

Andrew Luck deserves better.  Frank Gore deserves better.  Most of the Indianapolis Colts deserve better.  Indianapolis Colts fans deserve better.  The only thing Chuck Pagano deserves, is to be fired.

Luck Saves Colts……Again

Colts Defeat Chargers 26-22

The Indianapolis Colts beat the San Diego Chargers last night, essentially saving their season.  If the Colts had fallen to 0-3 on the season, it would have virtually eliminated any chance at the playoffs for the team.  Only 2 teams have started 0-3 and made the playoffs in the NFL’s new Playoff system.  It was a game that saw a lot of back and forth, and it was the first time that the Colts have defeated the Chargers at home, since 2004.

The Colts defense played well, considering.  The Chargers benefitted from an interception, and a returned fumble for a touchdown.  Andrew Luck was guilty of both turnovers, however, the interception happened on a bad route ran by an inexperienced WR, and the fumble came on a play where Luck was mauled by 5 Chargers defenders.  The biggest takeaway from the first half of the game, was that the Colts weren’t trailing by multiple TDs.  Before Sunday, the Chargers were outscoring their opponents in the first half, 42-3.

The most annoying part, for Colts fans, was Chuck Pagano’s play calling.  Pagano continues to call games, almost cowardly.  There is being a conservative play-caller, and then there is being scared to take chances.  With 55 seconds left in the first half, one of the best QBs in the NFL, and one of the most reliable kickers in the history of the NFL, Pagano decided to run the ball twice.  RUN. THE. BALL. TWICE.  Then, in the second half, after 3 straight penalties, the Colts found themselves at 2nd and 40.  How did Pagano respond?  Calling a run play right up the middle, twice again.

Chuck Pagano’s game-planning, and “conservative” play calling, have gotten to a ridiculous boiling point.  Most coaches become revitalized after receiving a contract extension, especially when most of the fan base was ready for you to leave.  Pagano doesn’t seem to be revitalized.  He revamped almost all of his staff, the offensive line is much better than many of us could have imagined, the defense is slightly better than average, and he has a mostly healthy Andrew Luck, and yet somehow, he is worse than ever.

To be fair, I’ve never been a fan of Chuck Pagano.  I personally feel that he has gotten a pass for a couple years now, due to his first season where he successfully battled leukemia.  The whole city got behind him, and a lot of the fans felt a personal connection to him because of it.  Sports aren’t personal, it’s business, and on a business level, he is a bad head coach.  He is a coordinator.  No shame in it.  He came to Indianapolis as a “defensive-minded” coach, and yet the Colts defense is not better.  His game-planning is so bad, that the Colts have become known for playing from behind.  He’s just not good.

I really hate blaming coaching for things, because they ultimately aren’t the ones that are playing the game, but Pagano’s flaws have come to the forefront.  You can’t continue to fall behind in every game of the season, and expect Andrew Luck to be a superhero, and save the game.

The Colts pulled it off on Sunday, against a team that has always seemed to have their number.  Chuck owes a big thank you to Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton.  They saved the game, and the season, at least for 1 week.

Brady: Great QB or Great System?

Before the 2016 season started, Patriot fans were just hoping to make it through the first 4 weeks of the season with a .500 record.  Their Super Bowl MVP QB, Tom Brady, had been suspended for his involvement for Deflategate, and Jimmy Garoppolo was going to be leading this team.  Kicking off the season against the Arizona Cardinals, a team that was in the NFC Championship game a year ago, the Patriots weren’t too optimistic.  They also had to take on the Houston Texans, a team with a new QB, great defense, and high hopes.  Their other two games during the 4 game stretch were the ones that the Patriot fans were really counting on.  With matchups at home against the Dolphins and the Bills, 2-2 seemed like the most likely start that this team could hope for.

No one told that to Bill Belichick.

After a brutal beatdown of the Houston Texans last night, the Patriots are now 3-0 on the year.  They started a rookie QB, after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a shoulder injury against the Dolphins, and somehow, they looked better.  The defense played their best game all season, and while they didn’t ask Jacoby Brissett to pass very much (only went 11-19 for 103 yards passing), he didn’t turn the ball over, and he even scored a TD on the ground.  The Patriots looked like they were in mid-season form, despite Brissett’s first career start AND a short week.  How?  Belichick.

As Head Coach of the Patriots, Belichick has a record of 190-69(.734%).  While he has benefitted from having Tom Brady since 2000, his win percentage is virtually the exact same WITHOUT Brady.  Which brings me to the question, is Tom Brady as great as we all think he is, or has he benefitted from Bill Belichick’s system?

There is no doubt, Brady is a 2x MVP, 4x Super Bowl Champ, and has been to the Pro Bowl 11x’s.  Despite that, his stats have never really jumped off the page.  He’s only thrown for 5000 yards once, more than 40 TDs once, and has had double digit INTs in 9 of his 14 full seasons played.

Personal stats don’t say everything though.  Football is a team sport, and the Patriots always seem to have a great defense.  Tom Brady has always played on a complete team.  Even if he had a bad game, the defense could make up for it.

I’m not saying that Brady isn’t great.  I personally list him in the top 5 of QBs ever.  That being said, I think he is a perfect system QB.  As much as Belichick owes his career to Brady, I think Brady owes more to Belichick.

I don’t think there is a right answer to this question, and that’s why I love to discuss it.  Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments below, or comment on Facebook.

NFL Kickoff Thursday

Well, I was wrong.

I thought Denver would get blasted at home, not due to their defense, but lack of offense.  No one could have predicted how well Trevor Siemian would play in that game.  Did he make mistakes?  Absolutely.  However, it was his first game ever.  He was expected to make mistakes.

The whole first half, Denver couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot.  3 times inside the Carolina 30-yard line, 3 turnovers.  Denver’s defense should be thanked for keeping them in the game, because the offense was trying to lose in the 1st half.

Then came the second half, where it appeared that the Denver D came out with a different speed.  Carolina had been run down, and for the bulk of the second half, Denver looked to be comparable to their Super Bowl winning team from February.  Then, came the final 2 minutes of the game, where Denver’s defense decided that it didn’t want to win the game.  In the final two minutes, Denver could have sealed the win at least twice, and committed stupid penalties to give life to Carolina.  They got lucky though, when Graham Gano pulled the game winning FG to the left.  Denver wins 21-20.

Now, let’s talk about the amazing lack of late hit calls, and the total disregard for concussion protocol shown by the Carolina Panthers.

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of the over-protection of quarterbacks recently, rules are rules.  The hardest part about enforcing late hits on QBs, is that they are completely subjective.  The first few hits on Cam Newton, I didn’t think were penalties, but as the game went on, and as Cam kept getting up slower and slower, the need for the officials to step in hit a head.  Sadly, the one time that they finally called a late hit on Newton, he also got called for Intentional Grounding, nullifying the penalty.

The other aspect of late hits, and more specifically helmet-to-helmet hits, is the concussion protocol.  Never once, even after Newton was clearly dazed, did Carolina’s team doctors check him.  Apparently, winning the game was more important to Carolina, than the well being of their star.  I believe that the NFL needs to do something to Carolina to make sure that they understand the protocol.

Last night, NBC made it a point to highlight #54 Brandon Marshall of the Broncos, for kneeling during the National Anthem.  I’m not going to delve into this topic, only to say that while it’s anyone’s right to do whatever they want, it’s also my right to believe that you are a disrespectful prick.

The final thing that I’ll say is about the rumor that the entire Seattle Seahawks team is planning to kneel or sit during the National Anthem on Sunday.  While I generally want to avoid this topic altogether, I can’t on this one.  Sunday is the first Sunday of the NFL regular season, but more importantly, it is the anniversary of 9/11.  If you want to protest by sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem, by all means, but not on 9/11.  The single biggest day in my lifetime, where all of America stood together in mourning, and the day that I decided that I wanted to serve my country.  I’m begging the Seahawks Organization.  Don’t do this on 9/11.  Do it next Sunday.

Also, I’ve seen recently on social media, people posting memes about how it’s hypocritical to expect athletes to stand for the anthem, while I sit on my couch.  Let’s just squash this right now.

36 U.S. Code § 301 states that during a rendition of the national anthem:

  1. when the flag is displayed
    • individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
    • members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are PRESENT in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
    • all other persons PRESENT should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over their heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart

Respect the flag.  That’s all I ask.