Welcome to the very first edition of the Devil's Take for the Indianapolis Colts 2012 Season. Yes, I took a nice long escape from the b.s. of the NFL Labor nonsense and all the rich whining about money. Now that our season is back on track (like it was ever not going to be) I'm back to enjoying football and expressing my opinion once more on the greatest Colts site on the internets.
So, are you ready for some football yet? I know I am. If I have to listen to one more schmuck whine about Free Agency or what this or that team did or didn't do, I will literally have to go Darrell Reid on them..
As always, I don't care if you like or don't like my views. We're all fans, we all have our own opinions. What I do care about though is great discussion and chatting up with my fellow football fans. Yes, even those of the Tom Bieber clan are included. So onto the good stuff...
Can I ask why Manning not being signed right away was such a big deal? I didn't think it was. The reality was that there was only really maybe 1-2 teams other than the Colts who even had a LEGITIMATE shot of even offering the guy a contract. So why the big deal? Oh yeah, we're worried about all those other guys getting signed by other teams. If you think that for one minute there was any signing more important than Manning, you need your head examined. Not only making sure the money is right per year (for the cap) but also making sure that the terms are right (guarantees, incentives, etc) all require exact working. Not to mention all the moves the Colts had to make (cutting/draftees/re-working deals).
Look, I get it, they had plenty of time to work out a deal. The issue is we don't really know what was being said or how it was being handled behind the scenes. The #1 free agent was signed in roughly 4 days.
I guess the point I am making is that too much was made about what other teams were doing and what our team wasn't. Unlike most of those teams, we spent last year beat up and injured. Think about it... The Colts fielded a team with only one starter for all 16 games on the O-Line, only 1 WR to play all 16 games, we were down to 5th and 6th string RB's and WR's. We had 18 players on IR, of which 11-12 were actual starters (offense/defense/special teams). The only other team to be as battered as the Colts, were the eventual SB Champion, Green Bay. Let's face it, the AFC is still the tougher conference. While Green Bay played well, I have no doubt they would have had the same issues the Colts had...if they played in the AFC.
Manning has missed only 1 snap of his career in the NFL for an injury. I'm sick of listening to people talk about Manning like he's battling injuries every year. The guy has played 13 seasons straight without a missed game. His only significant injury, was an infected bursa sac, as it prevented him from almost starting the season in 2008. The two surgeries he has had on his neck were for pain, not physical injuries that actually prevented him from doing something (like an ACL or Achilles tear). Are those surgeries concerning? Of course they are, but so is a bruised thumb or a fractured finger. It's concerning in a sense of don't forget your gloves and hat or you'll get a cold in the snow.
I'm seeing a lot of noise/talk about how the Colts need to be worried about him. Why? He's still in his prime, he's never taken much in the way of abuse, and he's a guy who doesn't need a lot of time to get into a rhythm. The guy is the best coach the Colts have in terms of the offense. All of his key players on offense are back and healthy. The offensive line, while a question mark, can't even possibly be as bad as last year's turnstile O-line. Manning put up several career and Colts records with an offensive line even Brady couldn't have stayed up right behind....and still led this injury riddled team to a 10-6 record.
Lastly, who cares if Manning isn't ready for camp? I know I'm not. If I had my way, the guy would take all the time in the world. Why? WHY NOT?!?! He's the leagues best QB, that's why. He knows the offense like the back of his hand, and probably better at that. Give him all the time and rehab he needs. They say 6 weeks, give him 8 weeks if you got it. Work on the line, work on the running attack, let him take his time. Manning is his own worst critic, he'll find faults in a 8 TD, 600 yard game...
Ah yes, the roulette wheel is a running. Early on it looks like the Eagles are the odds on favorites in that regard. So do the Patriots. Oh wait, that's just on paper.
The Eagles still have no running game to speak of, and their QB, is fresh off his best year of his career. His career year? Still worse than Manning's rookie year in most respects. Their offensive line is still suspect, and the only reason it's not the end of the world is because of Vick's ability to run. Still, the uncertainty of Jacksons health, is also the offense's biggest weapon. He goes out, they will be in a world of hurt. While they added Asomugha, they still can't get to most QB's. Manning carved their secondary and their defense apart despite the Colts inability to run the ball. The Jets 2 years in a row couldn't stop Manning either, and their defense was better than the Eagles. I'd say it's about even right now...
Same could be said of the Patriots. They go out and snag Chad Johnson and Fat Albert. All of a sudden, they're the best team in the world again. Oh wait. This is a team who still can't sack the QB (Their #1 sack artist was a DE with 5.5 sacks **corrected by ISN**) and they still have issues at RB. This was a team with like 500 draft picks and they draft a backup QB with a high pick. Why? Both the Eagles and Patriots are going to be good teams this year. My point with these comments are that while they've all made splashy moves, they still have their own issues, their own problems. Adding a big name player doesn't fix the issues the teams have. The Chargers still haven't got a defense, but they have big play capability on offense. Same goes for the Texans. There is only so much you can do.
Now let me come to the Colts. This was a Colts team, that despite injuries to big minute players on both sides of the ball, managed to produce a career year for Manning. A team that despite it's inability to just about anything, managed to win 10 games against a decent middle of the pack schedule. Think about the losses for a minute. Almost every single loss except the first two, can be absolutely attributed to the loss of key players on offense. Garcon, Collie, Clark, all of the RB's, an offensive line even a Pop Warner defense could have got in our backfield. Despite that, the Colts put up a fight in almost every game. They were in most of the games. This is a team that doesn't need huge splashes, it needs good splashes. It needs a few David Thortons, Justin Tryon's, and even 1 or 2 Jeff Saturdays...
What do I mean by that? It needs guys who can play above what other people believe they can. I'd take 40 Gary Bracketts over even 1 elite player.
Loss of Charlie Johnson, Diem staying
I find it hilariously ironic that people are moaning about the loss of CJ, yet a majority of those same people were ready to mob the Colts front office to force them to get rid of guys like David Foster. CJ's only real value was that he was capable of playing both the tackle and guard position. However, he wasn't considered a starter by most teams and only a team desperate with a lot of holes to fill would have considered him. Linkenbach, who many believe can be a starting tackle in this league, filled in twice last year for CJ. Ironically, no one really noticed CJ was out unless you saw him on the sidelines. So while seeing CJ move on is a shame, the guy would have been demoted anyways this year if not next year.
Diem's reworked deal isn't a shocker either, when you really sit down and think about it. Big picture kind of thinking.
1.) The Colts drafted two O-Line players expected to play right away. A true LT and a hybrid guard/tackle.
2.) The positions Diem has played match what the Colts are thinking Ijalana can play, but I expect him to play tackle almost exclusively.
3.) Who better to instruct Ijalana than the guy who currently plays the position already? Nobody in the league expects Diem to sign with another team, the guy is definitely on the decline.
4.) While Diem is definitely declining, it would be wrong for us to blame him exclusively for the failures of last year. The Colts had no running game, had injuries to virtually every offensive weapon, including Manning, and despite that, Diem performed average. Manning threw almost 200 more passes than he had in most year, it was inevitable that a player or two get an opportunity they probably shouldn't have. I'd rather see a lot of other guys out there besides Diem, but I'm not sure the Colts needed CJ as much as they needed Diem.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the Colts actually have quite a bit of decent role players/young guys that can play offensive line. You have that huge massive kid that we picked up from the Ravens practice squad, Joe Reitz (6'7" 325lbs). We still have McClendon, who is being groomed to replace Saturday, but can play guard. We also of course still have Linkenbach, who can play LT and could even play guard if needed. We all know he can't play RT.
The last thing with regards to this is that unlike last year, the Colts are looking to be fully heathy going into this season. No one from last year's team should miss any part of preseason/season from an injury from last year. That could make a huge difference on how the Colts play.
Colts Player Moves - Suggested Ideas
I've seen a lot of the transactions going around, and so far, I'm okay with what I'm seeing from the Colts. Like many, I don't understand why you would cut a starter like Hayden yet take the hit on a reworked deal for a turnstile RT in Diem. Hayden might have had bad moments, but rarely was he ever outplayed like Diem was this past year. It's also unfair to point the finger at Hayden, as this defense was on the field A LOT the past year and just about everyone was getting beat.
Justin Tryon needs to the be Colts starting CB once the year starts. Melvin Bullitt needs to be the starting safety once the year starts.
The Colts only had two big needs going into the offseason in my opinion: O-Line and DT
I think they've addressed most of it, but I would like to see them take a chance ala Corey Simon/Booger McFarland type deal. The Colts don't need a big name player in the middle, but what they need is a grinder. Someone who isn't going to win any awards for being a standout, but just a guy who clogs up the middle. We need someone who can put up a fight without getting pushed around on every play. Do the Colts have a guy like that? They may, but I still think we need it. Has it been said enough? Yes.
The Colts only real weakness is their run defense. When the run defense held up, the Colts win most of the time. When it doesn't, they lose more often than not. We've seen it and heard it a number of times. I think this is the only other thing the Colts need to focus on at this point.
I'm a little surprised the Colts have not tried to move or cut Gonzo. The guy simply doesn't cut it as a Colt anymore. The only reason I suspect he's still in uniform is because he is under contract and for depth. Otherwise, I suspect he'd be gone. It would easier to line up Clark in the slot than Gonzo at this point, and Tamme/Santi/Eldridge keep the Colts loaded at TE in Clark's absence.
One thing I do think would be a little crazy, and worth a shot, is bringing in Randy Moss. Yes, the guy is a cancer and yes the guy is lazy. He's also never worked with a guy who demanded perfection like Manning does. He also has never played with a QB who can absolutely stonewall a defense like Manning can. Yes, he played with Brady...but what Moss did with Brady wasn't anything Moss had not already done in his career. Moss twice had gone for almost 20 TD's in a year. He had a better year yardage wise in 2004, with the Vikings. The guy has one year left in him, and I think if the price is right, the Colts would be served to at least take a shot at it. It's crazy, but Moss could offer the Colts one more guy who could stretch the defense and the field, and provide a sure handed burner for Garcon to learn from.
What is it with the NFL and us being on the road to open a season? Not to mention, why exactly are we playing IN Houston to open the season AGAIN? Twice in two years, really?!?!
At first glance, I see a fairly decent schedule, with only a few hiccups in the road. My thoughts?
|1||9/11||@ Houston Texans||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|2||9/18||CLEVELAND BROWNS||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|3||9/25||PITTSBURGH STEELERS||8:20 PM||NBC LOSS
|4||10/3||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8:30 PM||ESPN WIN
|5||10/9||KANSAS CITY CHIEFS||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|6||10/16||@ Cincinnati Bengals||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|7||10/23||@ New Orleans Saints||8:20 PM||NBC WIN
|8||10/30||@ Tennessee Titans||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|9||11/6||ATLANTA FALCONS||1:00 PM||FOX WIN
|10||11/13||JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS||1:00 PM||CBS LOSS
|12||11/27||CAROLINA PANTHERS||1:00 PM||FOX WIN
|13||12/4||@ New England Patriots||8:20 PM||NBC WIN
|14||12/11||@ Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|15||12/18||TENNESSEE TITANS||1:00 PM||CBS WIN
|16||12/22||HOUSTON TEXANS||8:20 PM||NFL LOSS|
|17||1/1||@ Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 PM||
The Colts should very easily go 12-4 this coming year, the only real tests being the Steelers, Patriots, Falcons, and Saints. The difference however is that the Colts have revenge on their minds from the past 2 seasons where they gave away a game in Foxborough and the SB. I expect the AFC South will produce as many or more of the Colts losses compared to the rest of the NFL. That has pretty much been par for the course for most of the seasons since the Colts joined the AFC South. As you can see, I believe the Colts will go 13-3....but I wouldn't be shocked at all if they go 12-4.
Before I go, I'd like to say congrats to the new writers for Stampede Blue, both the staff and several of the new regulars who have become regular fanposters. I've read a ton of articles, both good and bad topics, and found a lot of discussion that was very interesting. Please feel free to love or hate my articles, just keep it real and keep it polite! Thanks for reading!