Stampede Blue Mailbag: The Expectation Is A Super Bowl

USA TODAY Sports

Stampede Blue's weekly mailbag answers questions about team expectations, the offensive line (again), and who will win the fullback roster spot: Dan Moore or Stanley Havili.

Yeah, I know this is a day late, but I'm on vacation and trying to get some rest in before training camp, preseason, and the next five months of NFL football consume my mind.

Playoffs are always expected, regardless of who the quarterback is. The NFL is a league built on parody. [Editor's Note: Actually, what I meant to write is "parity," but after watching the hijinks in recent years involving several NFL players getting in trouble with the law and owners acting so unapologetically greedy it would make Gordon Gekko blush, "parody" seems appropriate too] It's now common for last year's worst team to become one of the better team's in the league the following year. In fact, it's so common now that it's almost expected by many fans, and if the front office and the coaching staff don't deliver immediate results, they get tossed. A great example is Jacksonville last year. Head coach Mike Mularky had just one season in charge there, and the team was a disaster. Mularky was dumped after the 2012 campaign.

With Luck, the expectation isn't playoffs every year. The Colts must contend every year. When a team spends over $40 million dollars in one offseason, as the Colts did this year, that is not a team in sorta-maybe-kinda-golly-gee-it-would-be-great-if-we-could-make-the-playoffs mode. The expectation is a championship.

I would think Havili because the Colts traded for him and because he comes from Philadelphia, Ryan Grigson's old team. Grigson knows exactly what he is getting in Havili, and after looking at five Philly games last season I can see what Grigson likes in him. Havili is not just a blocker, but he is actually a pretty good running back in his own right. He can also catch the ball. All these skills make him useful because, if he's on the field, the Colts do not need to telegraph that they are going to run the ball. Havili's good enough that they can throw out of sets in which he participates in.

I have heard good thing about Dan Moore though. However, he's an undrafted rookie, and I think the realistic view with him is practice squad. However, we shall see during camp and preseason. If Moore outplays and out-practices Havili, Moore will likely get the job.

The improvement should be dramatic, and if it isn't you'll see coaches getting fired. Maybe even Pagano. I really cannot emphasize this enough: Jim Irsay cannot afford to lose Andrew Luck. Irsay cut arguably the greatest quarterback of all time so that he could draft Luck last year. Many fans STILL are angry at Irsay for that, and for an owner trying to generate big revenue out of a small market like Indianapolis (a market known for it's fickle fanbase who will turn on a team in a heartbeat if their favorite players or coach is removed), Irsay cannot afford to be without the one player who acts as a game-changer on and off the field.

In terms of the players, both Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas are upgrades over Winston Justice and Seth Olsen from last year. Either Hugh Thornton or Khaled Holmes (or both) will start in 2013, and both have more talent that Joe Reitz, Jeff Linkenbach, or Samson Satele. The wildcard is Ben Ijalana. If he is healthy, the Colts have good depth along the o-line in terms of talent and interchangeability. Outside of Cherlius and Anthony Castonzo, every other lineman can both multiple positions along the line. That's important because injuries will happen and flexibility is critical.

Denver at home. The Broncos are the most talented team in the NFL, and the added drama of Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis will bring something that Indianapolis has ever seen since the 2007 AFC Championship Game at the old RCA Dome.

Manning and the Broncos will enter Indianapolis looking to destroy the Colts. I guarantee you this game is circled on Mannings' calendar, and if anyone thinks that everything is roses and kisses between Peyton and Irsay, they are suckers. Manning is still sore that the Colts cut him, and his play in Denver last year proved that Irsay's public concerns about his arm and neck were either A) an excuse just to get rid of him, or B) overblown and unfounded. Manning was an MVP-level quarterback last year, and he likely feels that he could have duplicated that in Indianapolis.

So, in terms of the toughest, I'd say Denver. If the Colts can somehow win that game over a very good Broncos team and a hyper-motivated Peyton Manning, that would be huge.

Sorry I missed this question last week Aaron.

The injury is bad enough that he hasn't participated in any practices of any kind all offseason. It was also enough for the Giants to say "see yeah" to him and not re-sign him. This is a player that many in New York felt was their most important aside from Eli Manning.

As Colts fans, we should get used to Bradshaw's name on the injury report. He's always been an injury prone player, and for many Giants fans he frequent trips to the training room were a consistent source of frustration. The hope in Indy is that with him sharing carries with Vick Ballard that he'll be healthier in December in January. Bradshaw has been lethal in playoff games. Without him, the Giants do not win Super Bowls in 2008 and 2012.

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