On Friday, the WIBC radio show The Heavyweights had Mike Hart as a guest. In between portions of the show where host (and Colts employee) Jeffrey Gorman confessed his man-love for Hart, there was actually some pretty interesting information shared by the man who has the stones to wear Edgerrin James' old #32 for the Colts.
Hart told Gorman that the team emphasis this off-season was to get stronger in the weight room and to find bigger guys to help the team get more physical.
You can definitely tell they brought in a couple more big guys this off-season. I think everybody knows that. That was one of the focuses. But, you know, at the end of the day the one thing about the Colts that everybody knows is that they’re still going to keep the best players. It doesn’t matter how big they are, how strong they are, how fast they are. At the end of the day, they’re gonna keep the best players. Definitely there is an emphasis on getting stronger in the weight room, getting bigger in the weight room. And guys have really taken to it, but they’re not going to lose their speed and quickness just to get bigger.
A key point in Hart's musings is that, regardless of size or strength, the Colts will (in general) keep the best 53 on the active roster. However, as the club shifts further and further away from the Tony Dungy-way of doing things, we are seeing more of an emphasis on size and strength over speed and quickness. I personally would argue that this new philosophy change (and yes, it is a change) is being done at the expense of keeping better players on the roster.
How else do you explain Ryan Lilja getting surprisingly cut back in March? It certainly wasn't because he sucked.
Almost three months ago, Colts General Manager Chris (son of Bill) Polian went on local Indy radio and talked about how the Colts were not making a shift in their offensive line philosophy despite the actions of the team screaming they were. Chis even compared this year's changes with the o-line with last year's changes with the d-line, which did little to help explain his odd refusal to call the changes a "shift." In the case of the d-line last year, the changes made were a pretty dramatic from the norm. Normal starters at defensive tackle like Eric Foster (265 pounds), Keyunta Dawson (260 pounds), and Raheem Brock (275 pounds) were replaced by Daniel Muir (305 pounds) and Antonio Johnson (310 pounds).
Pretty big "shift," huh.
But, whatever. I'm not going to get into a argument with Chris Polian over something like this. I just think it's silly trying to hide or underscore a pretty obvious change in team philosophy; a change that even Colts players like Mike Hart are openly talking about. My hope is that bigger linemen like Jacques McClendon can pick up the slack left by cutting Lilja; a move that still puzzles me.
It's important to note that speed is still held at a high premium in Indianapolis, which is critical. You win in this league with speed. Fly to the football, gang tackle, and punish the ball-carrier. It's the foundation the Colts are built on, and it's a winning formula.
Back to Hart, in his interview with Gorman and The Heavyweights, he also talked about how the running game was getting back to the "As, Bs, and Cs of football." He touched on his health as well, saying he felt good. Tendinitis in his knee from two years ago is gone, and Hart is ready for camp to start.