Interesting article in today's Indianapolis Star, one that talks up the changes happening in the Colts offense since they hired Bruce Arians as their offensive coordinator. Unlike previous years, the Colts are not having Reggie Wayne simply line-up on the fair-left of the formation, where he has been stationed for 12 years. They plan to move him around. Play some slot. Play some on the right side. Maybe even take a few swing passes out of the backfield.
The goal is to maximize Wayne's versatility. Also, let's just be honest here, Reggie's old. Knee injuries and age have limited his speed, and he is not going to burn corners like he used to. Thus, the new O.C. wants to create match-up problems for the defense. Novel concept for the Colts.
When quoted in the Star's article, Arians had some rather harsh comments regarding how Reggie used to be utilized:
"Why leave him in one spot?'' asked offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "We're not a right and left wide receiver offense. He's going to be our flanker and our slot.
"He's got great decision making and he's really strong in the slot. It's a waste of talent to just have him out (left) all the time and let him be double covered."
That's interesting coming from Arians, and here's why. If you read the 2012 Football Outsiders Almanac, as I did, you know that no offense was more predictable in 2011 than Jim Caldwell's Colts. The 2010 offense was pretty predictable too. In fact, the Colts offense was always predictable, and it could afford to be. It had Peyton Manning as the quarterback. Once Manning was removed from the offense, the predictability became more of a liability.
Thus, a 2-14 season and a passing attack ranked 27th in the league.
One of the results of the 2011 season was Jim Caldwell being fired. However, the man who coordinated Caldwell's predictable offense, Clyde Christensen, was not. Christensen, who ran the limited offense that, as Arians inferred, wasted the talents of Reggie Wayne, was kept on as the team's quarterback coach. He's now tutoring the future of the franchise, No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.
Now, in fairness to Christensen, when he was given the title of offensive coordinator in 2010, he was essentially tasked with running the same offense that Tom Moore coached for over a decade. Moore was reportedly pushed out of the organization. I've heard similar reports that Howard Mudd got the same treatment. Arians considers Moore his mentor, and it was Moore who hired Arians to be Peyton Manning's QB coach in 1998 just as Arians now has Christensen doing for Andrew Luck. We also cannot discount the overbearing meddling of Bill Polian. Jim Caldwell was essentially Polian's stooge, basically making coaching and roster decisions at the front office's request. It's possible that Christensen wanted to change the offense, but (just like Larry Coyer wanted to change the defense) was sabotaged by Polian and his willing head coach.
A lot of "ifs" there, but it is possible. Polian has not well-liked by many Indianapolis assistant coaches.
Arians' comments could be viewed as a dig at Christensen, but if Christensen had his hands tied last year, the comments are more a shot at (perhaps) the former front office heads. Doesn't matter if Arians thinks the comments were an intentional shot or not. When you say, "it's a waste of talent" to line Wayne up on the left side, a side he has played well at for 12 years, it's a shot at someone.
Oh, and in case you care, I agree with Arians. Move the wideouts and TEs all over the place. Create mismatches. Few remember this, but the basic tenet of any Tom Moore offense is maximizing the talent you have. You don't make players fit your offense. You make your offense fit your players.
This is what Arians is doing, and I, for one, like it.