Welcome to the Devil's Take! Can you smell it? Football is in the air once more, as OTAs have officially started. Already we have tweets out of camp that say the Colts lineup is coming together, that the front seven will impress, and amazingly the Colts are somehow copying the Patriots. All that an more is coming up....
What I would like to say before I start is that I do appreciate all the great feedback on my last two articles. It was much appreciated. While I didn't agree with some of the discussion, it was great to actually discuss it without it going downhill as many other articles have. On to the business at hand...
Something has been really bothering me for much of the last week. I've been reading nothing but a lot of misconceptions on this team from about how great RG3 will be compared to Luck to how bad the Colts defense is. The amount of blatant water cooler football trash talk has been anything but hilarious.
RG3 better than Luck:
Somehow, if RG3 makes the playoffs, he's instantly better than Luck. The first time I read that on here I about spit my Coke all over the screen. It's so funny I can't help but laugh at it. RG3 is a good quarterback, and has all the tools to be as good, maybe even better than Luck. However, if he makes the playoffs, it won't be because of his talent. The Redskins are a good football team, in a rather average division. The Giants won that division last year with a 9-7 record. The Redskins have failed to make the playoffs in the last 2 years because of issues at the QB position.
The Redskins have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and coincidentally, injuries pretty much derailed them too last year. They lost 5 games by 7 pts and lost another by 8. They swept the reigning SB champion Giants by two TDs in both games. Unlike the Colts, the Redskins have enough talent on the roster that a simple QB addition will make a much bigger impact.
To put this truly in perspective, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both were drafted in the same year. Big Ben immediately rolled to the playoffs his rookie season and would wind up winning a SB his second year. However, Eli was the higher touted QB coming into the league. Eli didn't make the playoffs right away. Yet, both are 2 time SB champs. Eli is twice a SB MVP. Eli's thrown for more TDs and more yards. The point is that making the playoffs means jack if you don't win it all. Ironically, Luck is Eli (traditional dropback QB) in this equation while RG3 is Roethlisberger (mobile QB).
I could only wish that both players would give their respective teams the same outcomes that Roethlisberger and Manning have provided to their teams.
Colts copying the Patriots:
Don't even make me laugh. What Brad's article covers along with most of your comments, pretty much echo my own. The Colts pretty much ran the same offense here in Indy for the first 6 years of Manning's career. It's was Arians primary offense in Pittsburgh. It's a well used offense and can be VERY effective with the right personnel.
I also look at the guiding influence Arians had on Roethlisberger. While Luck is not of the same mold as Big Ben, he's a semi mobile QB with a excellent arm. Arians can manipulate this offense to fit him quite well.
Colts defensive issues:
Colts are small at LB? Wait, so because the Ravens LB's are like a combined 2 inches and maybe 15lbs heavier, we're small? The 3-4 defense isn't as much about size as it is about making you guess where the pressure is going to come. As long as guys stay healthy, the only downside to size is the Colts inability to match up with bigger TE's across the middle in pass coverage. However, if the Colts are able to get the push up the middle and impact the QB's throwing lanes, it won't matter as much.
Still, the Colts have Conner and Angerer who are essentially tackling machines. **Add in Hughes, who could play big as a LB, and the Colts still have a decent set of LB's. The issue of course comes when the Colts are going to run a 3-4, as most of the roster consists of players with issues in pass coverage (Freeney, Mathis, Angerer, etc.) Of course to be fair to Angerer, he did spend the last two seasons playing a TON of time on defense due to injuries and our offense going 3 n out.
**corrected for erroneous listing of player not on roster**
Colts Hybrid 3-4 defense:
Look, the sky isn't falling. The Colts will be okay in the front seven aspect for this season. They added some big NT bodies, capable of playing the 3-4. They've got a few hogs capable of playing inside while Freeney/Mathis move to essentially rush linebacker. This isn't the end of the world. The Texans did it, and it reaped major benefits for them that season. The Colts defense, which I believe has better talent at the front four, should in theory actually be better for this change.
The Colts will still probably play a 4-3 defense a good 45-50% of the snaps easily, because it will mask some issues. However, the Colts will also be able to change up their defense when needed. This makes them able to better match up with certain teams. The Ravens and Patriots both have played this style of defense for years, and the Ravens have been one of the leagues best year in and year out. Part of that's due to drafting and keeping players in house, but part of that is also schemes to mask issues/cover your ass.
Colts Running Game:
Without the immortal Manning, the Colts rushing attack was ironically the best it had been in 4 years. Still, it was the 3rd worst performance on a team with Manning on the roster. With the loss of Saturday to FA, Diem thankfully retiring, and a few rag tags exiting the building, the Colts finally have what looks to be a decent run blocking offensive line. The Colts have all the right ingredients to make this season, the best rushing attack the Colts have had since 2004. If the Colts can't produce at least 1700-1800 yards on the ground, then it will have been a failure in my opinion.
Now before you get all crazy, that's not a big stretch. The Colts ran for almost 1600 yards in 2011. It just wasn't an effective 1600 yards. The team could not run the ball when it needed it most in several games. This team should be able to get back up to the middle of the pack in terms of rushing the ball. Why am I so adamant about this? Because the Colts chances of both protecting Luck and allowing his mistakes to not hurt us are greatly improved if we can run the ball effectively.
Crying about the Colts not drafting defense:
Look, it's a broken record. The Colts had nothing on offense before the draft. They signed a nobody QB just to have a QB on the roster. They were actually entertaining the idea of signing fathead Byron Leftwich to have a QB on the roster. The Colts had a combined 5 skillset players left on offense after the purge of 2011. Of those, you could say perhaps two players were considered starters (Wayne/Collie). The rest were RB by committee and a pass blocking TE.
The Colts had no choice but to draft offense. They got two QBs, two TEs, two WRs, a RB, and an OL. Of those picks, only the RB and Mr. Irrelevant were unnecessary picks. Still, the Colts had to fill slots. You can get decent players in free agency, but the Colts still had plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Needed a QB? Check. Needed a NT? Check and double check. Needed a CB? Fail.
Of all the things the Colts have not done yet, is address the CB position. It's truly the only significant issue the Colts have on defense right now, and pretty much was an issue all last year. Having said that, there are players on the Colts roster who could actually play significantly well in the new hybrid/3-4 setup. It's very hard to gauge it. Still, the Colts need to make a move to at least snag a halfway decent corner. Grabbing Clements from Cincinnati, provided the rumors prove true, would be a big time improvement for the Colts.
The Colts, as the roster stands right now, are still in better shape than about a 1/3 of the league. I said it before in my first Devil's Take of the post Manning era, but I'll say it again. The Colts will finish 7-9. So for all of you hoping that the Colts will suck and take the 1st pick again, forget it... this ain't the 2000's Lions, who pretty much had a top 3 pick every year. This is the Colts, and there is too much talent and pride on this roster to let it happen.
As always, I look forward to your comments and discussion. Thanks!