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Sprint has partnered with us and is sponsoring a few posts over the next few weeks. The topic for the Sprint posts is "Game Changing Offseason Moves," which for the Colts pretty much means the offensive line. No other area of the team, save maybe defensive back, has undergone more change this offseason.
Ryan Lilja: Cut
Adam Terry: Signed
Andy Alleman: Signed
Those are the moves we have seen. Everything else, from rumors regarding Marcus McNeill to everyone's fantasy about Jared Gaither, tells the tale of a club that is transitioning from a quick, pass-oriented o-line to one that will feature a lot more beef up front. Even as we get ready for the draft this Sunday, it seems almost every mock draft has the Colts taking someone like Charles Brown, Rodger Saffold, or Maurkice Pouncey in the first or second round. Just FYI: Pouncey is 6'5, 318; Brown is 6'6, 298; Saffold is 6'5, 318.
These behemoths are a far cry from Colts starters Charlie Johnson (6'4, 305), Kyle DeVan (6'2, 306), or Jeff Saturday (6'2, 295).
Now, you all know I am a fan of saying "size doesn't matter," and when you get past the "that's not what she said!" jokes, the reality is that many sub-300 pound offensive linemen have had great careers in the NFL. You do not need to be big to dominate. Go back and watch the final moments of the AFC Championship Game in 2006. When you see 295 pound Jeff Saturday absolutely MAUL Vince Wilfork (335 pounds) on the goal-line to help Joseph Addai score the game-winning TD, the whole "size is everything" argument gets dismissed pretty quickly.
Still, based on the off-season moves by Bill Polian, it seems that new offensive line coach Pete Metzelaars, a former tight end who played for Polian in Buffalo back in the 1980s and 1990s, does not fully share the philosophy of his mentor, Howard Mudd. Mudd coached the Colts offensive line from 1998 to last year. He's now retired. Mudd utilized quick, under-sized guys that were best at zone blocking. Pass protection was the focus, run second. The results fielded the greatest offense in NFL history over a 10 year period.
Will this new shift produce similar or better results? For Pete Metzelaars sake, it damn well better.
I understand why the team wants to add a bit more bulk. For two years in a row, a playoff game has been partially decided against them because the offense was unable to convert a short yardage run. We know it isn't the backs. So, it's gotta be the line. The argument against this change is the team has, essentially, traded Ryan Lilja (an outstanding but under-sized guard) for Andy Alleman (a nobody that the horrid Kansas City Chiefs discarded because he... well, sucked last year). Terry is just camp fodder right now, competing with Mike Pollak, Jamey Richard, and Jaimie Thomas for back-up guard or tackle duty.
So, unless we see a significant player taken in the draft, I don't see how the line has gotten better. Has it changed? Absolutely. But change is not always a good thing.