Opinions really are like buttholes; everyone has one and most stink. But those opinions are why I joined this blog. I wanted to be able to discuss my passion (or obsession) with others who got it; who understood. I wanted to be part of a Colts fan community so that I could hear what others thought about the team that I love, while also voicing some of my own thoughts. This blog has given me that chance, and my opinions are often shaped by the discussions that take place here.
Anyhow, here is my opinion on how the 2014 off-season should go down on offense. Get a good, strong whiff and let me know what you think in the comments section. I may do another post dedicated solely to the defensive side of things later (this post just kept growing; sorry in advance).
I think the most obvious place to start is with the OL. Not since the days of Tarik Glenn have the Colts had an above average line. It seems like season after season it is always a story-line. Last year, Grigson invested significant resources into the OL (two mid-round draft picks, a huge contract for Cherilus, and an economically priced Donald Thomas at G). Cherilus has been very good, Thomas has been hurt, and the rookies (Thornton and Holmes) have struggled.
On top of that Satele and McGlynn have shown themselves to be inept at their respective positions. Cutting Satele shouldn't even be up for discussion. If he is on the roster with his current contract come training camp, then I will begin to seriously question the competence of this front office. Releasing Satele will save roughly 4 million dollars towards the cap (it is a no-brainer move).
I actually wouldn't mind if we brought back McGlynn on a vet minimum deal, however. He has shown himself to be a better Center than Guard and would make for good, cheap depth. Also, if the Center position isn't addressed through FA then he could start the season while either Holmes or a drafted C develops (that is worst case scenario).
So here are some of our options in Free Agency:
Alex Mack C Cle, age 28 (4th overall ranked C by PFF)
Brian De La Puente C NO, age 29 (16th ranked C by PFF) Likely to hit the market
Geoff Shwartz OG KC, age 27 (8th ranked G overall by PFF)
Jon Asamoah OG KC, age 26 (20th ranked G by PFF)
Travelle Wharton OG Car, age 33 (4th overall rated G by PFF)
Roger Saffold OG/OT Stl, age 26 (started career as Lt; played most recently at G)
The most notable option, if he hits the market, is Mack. While I'd hardly be upset if we signed him, I am hoping that we don't. He'd command a huge contract; one that would probably make him one of the highest paid, if not the highest paid, Center in the league. We've already signed our Rt to a huge deal and Castonzo will require a new deal after 2014. How practical is it to have the highest paid Rt AND the highest paid Center, while also having to re-sign our Lt next? Even if that wasn't a problem, how much impact does a Center really have on a team's overall success? I believe that it is more important to have a smart Center than a physically talented one (because of the blocking assignments that must be called at the line). This is just my opinion, but Guards have much more impact than Centers do. Thus, I believe picking up a starting caliber G should be the priority, while also finding quality depth players at all of the OL positions.
My personal pick is Travelle Wharton from Carolina. He was ranked as the 5th best Guard in 2013. He graded out as above average in both categories, but was especially good in the run game. Many will point at his age as a major negative, but I see it as a positive. At 33, he will come much cheaper than a guy like Shwartz. If he is only given a 1 or 2 year deal then he will be off the books when we have to re-sign Luck and the rest of our 2012 class. Most appealing, however, is the fact that he can start while allowing Thornton, Nixon, or any other young G, time to develop. I think that he is the perfect option in FA this year.
Pairing him with Thomas on the other side would give us a couple of strong maulers who are especially good at opening up lanes for the Rb. Solid play from both G positions should also improve the play of the Center (whoever that may be). I think that Holmes could win that starting spot after having more than a year in an NFL strength and conditioning program (although perhaps I am being naive). I just don't see too many options at Center in FA this year.
The Center from NO will probably be overpriced and I wonder how good he really is. He has played in-between two of the best Guards in the NFL, so I am not convinced that he is anything more than average. I'd hate to give a guy like that a contract similar to the one we gave Satele and in return get play similar to that of Satele's. Perhaps the answer to our problem at C lies in the draft, but as of now, my faith is in Holmes along with the expectation of much improved play from the Guards.
Other than OL, our offense actually looks pretty solid. Richardson and Ballard will only look better behind a stronger OL. There are infinite options for the 3rd running back spot if Brown doesn't return. Te's are obviously set with Allen and Fleener, but a 3rd Te couldn't hurt in a Pep Hamilton offense. Qb is set with Luck and Hasselbeck behind Center. The only other position that could use some attention on the offensive side of things is Wr. Even this position isn't a huge need as Rogers, Whalen, and Brazil have all shown flashes. An improved OL will also allow the receivers more time to get open so the need there is even further lessened.
There are actually some very good arguments to be made for addressing the Wr position this year, however. The first being that we have a lack of proven young talent on the team. Rogers could be a stud, but he could also be nothing more than a flash in the pan. He has hardly done enough to make me feel comfortable starting him outside opposite of Reggie... Brazil is very inconsistent... Whalen has good hands but leaves a lot to be desired athletically... Wayne is coming off of an ACL tear and is also on the wrong side of 30. On top of that, his contract expires in 2015.
The future at this position is very much in flux. It would be very nice to grab a young wide receiver that could grow with Luck. Giving Luck more weapons is hard to argue against and would certainly open things up for the other receiving threats (like Hilton, Fleener, Wayne, and Allen). This is widely believed to be a deep draft class for Wr and that may make the value better this year than it would be in other years.
But before we look at the draft, let's look at the options in FA.
Eric Decker Den, 27
Jeremy Maclin Phi, 26
Kenny Britt Ten, 25
Hakeem Nicks NYG, 26
Anquan Boldin SF, 33
I believe that Decker will be far too expensive for us. Besides that fact, he isn't going to live up to whatever contract he receives (unless he goes back to Den). Nicks and Maclin are both intriguing options... Both are likely to hit the market and both have shown the potential to be top tier receivers. Both have also been plagued by inconsistency and/or injury. Their prices may be reasonable as a result of this and could be high risk-high reward signings. The same could also be said of Kenny Britt. Boldin would purely be a stopgap and probably isn't on our radar.
In the draft there are plenty of options also. Here are a few of my favorites:
Jordan Matthews- (Big, tall receiver; great production, route running, and hands; deceptively quick).
Jared Abbrederis-(Good size and speed, great production, hands, and route running)
T.J. Jones-(Highly underrated receiver. Plays a lot bigger than his body would suggest. Is currently projected in rounds 5-7)
Cody Hoffman-(Taller receiver, very fluid body mechanics and good body control. Very smooth and almost "graceful" route runner and sprinter; he often appears to be gliding)
I'd be happy with any one of these choices. If we don't spend the money on a Maclin or Nicks in FA then we may look to draft one of these other guys. Matthews would require our 2nd round pick and it is likely that he won't even last that long. After already having a lackluster performance at the Senior Bowl, If he has a poor Combine then he could potentially fall to our pick 59 (like I said earlier, this draft is very deep at receiver). Most of us agree that we need to use our first pick on defense, but in the case of Matthews I would possibly make an exception. I truly believe that this guy will be something special in the NFL and I'd be even more confident in that prediction if Luck was the Qb throwing him the ball.
Abbrederis will probably be available in round 3... He could even fall to round 4, if we wanted to trade back.
I believe Jones is a guy destined to outperform his draft stock. I think there is a lot of value for us if we get him in round 5 or later.
The same is true of Hoffman. The guy has a lot of raw ability and Luck would give him every chance to reach his full potential.
Obviously, most of the attention needs to go towards the defense this off-season. The OL is the only pressing need on the offensive side of things. The returns of both Thomas and Allen will go a long way towards improving the unit; as will the termination of Satele.
The Wr position is an interesting one going forward. If it isn't addressed this season, then it absolutely must be next season. I would certainly kick the tires on Maclin and Nicks if they sit on the market for an extended amount of time. If they can be brought in at value rates, they may be worth-while investments.
In the draft we should avoid using our 2nd round pick on anything other than a defensive player (although Matthews will be very tempting if available). There are plenty of "high-ceiling" type Wrs in the later rounds.
I may do another post on the defense in the near future (and it will likely be an even longer article than this one with all of the holes on that side of the ball and with so many options to fill them).
Thanks for reading and please use the comment section; I love the discussions.