As OTAs wind down for the 2012 Indianapolis Colts, we are starting to get a sense of who among the new group of veteran player acquisitions is emerging as a leader. Stalwarts like Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis have always been vocal leaders, but with a rookie quarterback coming into the fold (and the absence of Type A personality Peyton Manning), it's time for some of these new guys to step up and assert themselves.
One of those guys is right tackle Winston Justice.
Justice was acquired via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the draft. It seems fitting that Justice get some focus here on the blog, especially considering his former boss in Philly, team president Joe Banner, just stepped down from his position early this morning.
As practice concluded yesterday, our good friend Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel sent out this interesting tweet regarding Justice, a man known for being a hard worker and vocal leader while he was in Philadelphia:
#Colts O-lineman Winston Justice said team chemistry is very good and much better than his former Eagles team— Reggie Hayes (@reggiehayes1) June 6, 2012
I've chatted with Jimmy and with my good buddy Jason Brewer, the editor of BGN and SB Nation: Philly. I'm biased, but I value their opinions on current and former Eagles players.
Jimmy has given me the impression that Justice stinks as a tackle, but as a person he is a tough guy who works hard. He just lacks talent, brains, or whatever else that makes him unable to block effectively.
Jason has given me a different perspective. Justice struggled early in his career in Philly. Then, after some injuries forced him into the line-up, he played very well in 2009, when Donovan McNabb was still the QB in Philly. Justice regressed again last year, but part of that could have been adapting to blocking for Michael Vick. Vick is, after all, a left-handed thrower, and it is the right tackle (not the left) who protects a lefty's blindside.
So, it's fair to say the reviews on Justice are mixed.
Regarding his comments about his current Colts team compared to the 2011 Eagles, I personally don't see anything unfair or (for that matter) inaccurate in them. The "Dream Team" Eagles of 2011 were made up of several high-priced veteran free agents. These players were signed right after the lockout, and did not have an offseason in which to build chemistry.
As a result, the 2011 Eagles started 2-4, but finished the season 6-4, including winning four-in-a-row in December to close out 2011. I'm of the opinion that had Philly won the NFC East (and not the World Champion NY Giants), it would have been the Eagles representing the NFC in the Super Bowl last February.
That's just my opinion. It's also my opinion that the 2012 Eagles are a very dangerous football team. I also think that Winston justice will be Indy's starting RT, and that he will play much better in 2012 than he did in 2011.