Folks, we have officially entered the only real time on the NFL calendar where things are truly dead. Of course, "dead" is relative. Even though minicamp concluded last week, the rookies are still in Indianapolis working. No confirmation yet as to whether Andrew Luck is one of them. He reportedly walked at his Stanford graduation this past Sunday, which happened to be Father's Day (gee, ya think Oliver Luck was smiling that goofy dad smile fathers always seem to have when they are proud of their kids).
Anyway, as we continue to navigate through this slow time (in terms of Colts news), much of what we will focus on is A) What we learned about this team during the offseason, and B) What we can expect from them in 2012.
For me, I'll clarify all my current and future remarks by getting this out in the open: I expect the Colts to compete in the AFC South. Not only do I expect them to compete, but the owner does as well. Anyone saying this team and franchise is setting itself up to "suck" in 2012 simply doesn't know what they are talking about. The Colts can't afford to "suck" in 2012. Another 2-14 season will mean even fewer season tickets for next year. It will also mean local blackouts this year, and local blackouts in a market that pays $20 million a year in maintenance costs for Lucas Oil Stadium would be a P.R. disaster for Jim Irsay and the franchise; a disaster they would unlikely recover from.
Can't happen. Colts have to compete, and they will.
So, there. Now you know my mind on the 2012 Colts. I expect them to compete. Looking back on what we learned from minicamp, they should be in a position to compete.
- The early reviews on Andrew Luck were stellar. No, you can't tell if a guy is going to be an MVP by how he throws in shorts. However, you can tell what kind of leader he is by how he conducts himself. So far, the comparisons between Luck and Peyton Manning seem reasonable when you look at how both men practice. The differences are small. Luck seems to be the kind of guy more looking to fit in with a veteran team. That was never Peyton. He was always "the guy." Luck's willingness to step into a team of veterans and not assert himself too much will go a long way to helping the franchise win.
- Luck and Austin Collie are developing good rhythm and timing. Collie was Luck's favorite target in minicamp.
- Reggie Wayne and Luck aren't on the same page, but that isn't a big deal right now. Reggie seems to like Luck, and both are making plans to practice on together both in Pal Alto and in Miami between now and late-July.
- Something to keep an eye on: Luck looked in command when the team was playing glorified flag football. When the rushers started coming at him on the second day of camp, he struggled. It's nothing to get freaked out about, but how Luck handles pressure (aka, pass rush) will be THE deciding factor in how well this team plays in 2012.
- The Colts used Donnie Avery and Austin Collie in the slot. There was reportedly a lot of pre-snap movement on the offensive side of the ball. Avery looked good, fast. Right now, he, Collie, and Wayne are the starting WRs.
- Coby Fleener was used in both the first and second offensive units. Dwayne Allen worked almost exclusively with the first team.
- The starting offensive line looks to be LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Ben Ijalana, OC Samson Satele, RG Mike McGlynn, RT Winston Justice.
- Mike McGlynn is taking on an active, leadership role. Teammates seem to like him, respect him. I expect him to start.
- Starting defensive line is DE Fili Moala, NT Antonio Johnson, DE Cory Redding. If Mookie is the team's starting NT, why bother punting? The starter has to be either Brandon McKinney or Josh Chapman. If it isn't, the defense is going to suck no matter what Chuck Pagano or Greg Manusky do, scheme-wise. Mookie was a mediocre NT in a 4-3. I don't think he can cut it as a 3-4 NT.
- Donald Brown is the starter at RB, but that is not set in stone. Coaches seem to really like rookie Vick Ballard.
- This is just a feeling on my part, but I think the Colts will eventually trade for Dallas CB Mike Jenkins. The Cowboys are clearly holding out until training camp before trading him. They are looking to get the most value. From what I am hearing at minicamp, outside Jerraud Powers, the Colts are very limited at corner.
Going forward, we will have position-by-position breakdowns as we get ready for training camp, which opens in five weeks.