INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 14: Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to avoid Jerry Hughes #92 of the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 14 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. The Colts won 23-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andrew Mishler wrote a good, fair piece on Jerry Hughes a couple of weeks ago. Bottom line: This is it for him. If we don't see something along the lines of 5 sacks, 30 tackles, and maybe a couple of forced fumbles from the former first round pick in 2012, he will not be a Colt the following season.
Hell, if he struggles in preseason, I wouldn't be surprised to see him cut.
Still, it helps to keep an open mind on Hughes. This is a new front office, a new coaching staff, and a new scheme on defense. He may thrive in this new environment.
When asked by radio host Jon Michael "JMV" Vincent on Indianapolis radio station WFNI whether the regime change in the Colts leadership was refreshing, Hughes responded:
Yes, it should. You know. Just to get a new new set of eyes in there in the organization and open up opportunities for some of us young players to kind of get in there and get our feet wet.
Yeah, not exactly a ringing endorsement of the previous regime. The one that, you know, drafted Hughes.
When asked about whether he will benefit from the Colts switching from a 4-3 Tampa-2 scheme to a 3-4 one, Hughes said:
Yes, absolutely. It gives me an opportunity to kind of get on the field and show my athletic ability, really.
Hughes acknowledged that his lack of production and meaningful playing time has weighed on him. He also described his transition from the college game to the pro level as "slow."
Personally, I'd call it nonexistent.
The bust label will hang on Hughes until he actually does something out there on the field. The fact that he is awful on special teams does not speak well for his athletic talent. Still, Hughes projects much better as an outside linebacker in the NFL than a defensive end. The question now is did the incompetence of Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell stunt his growth so much that he is unable to develop into the pass rusher he was projected to be.
Personally, I'm rooting for Hughes. However, I'm a bottom line kinda guy, and I don't have a lot of sympathy for millionaire, former first round busts. Hughes better produce, or I want his ass on the waiver wire.