SB: You mentioned several times the injury to tight end Dwayne Allen, and by all accounts that was a huge loss for the Colts last year. What can Colts fans reasonably expect from Allen this year, and how big of an impact should he have to the offense?
McCown: A healthy Allen can improve the Indianapolis run game that often found poor blocking from it's cadre of lower-roster backs and tight ends. A healthy Allen can be a passing game weapon that can run the whole route tree. As I am not a doctor, I can't tell you what to reasonably expect. All I know is that a healthy Allen will make the entire Colts offense a better place.
SB: One of the biggest things that stuck out to me when reading your analysis on the Colts was your repeated criticism of general manager Ryan Grigson - and criticism I feel was deserved, too. But what I found interesting was that you bashed Grigson for the Vontae Davis trade even more than for the Trent Richardson trade, but then you also mentioned how good Davis was in 2013. What was the reason for the criticism of the move yet the praise for the player, and if it truly was about money then what must Davis do to be worth the contract the team paid him this offseason?
McCown: I criticized the Vontae Davis trade because look, everyone already knows the Trent Richardson trade was a disaster. That's a fish-in-a-barrel subject. I bring up the Davis trade because a) his general inconsistency would make me wary of committing to him long-term, and b) the Colts could really use a draft-pick salary defensive stalwart more than another commodity player like Davis. Especially given how old the unit is at this point in time.
I have no problem with Vontae Davis making the money he does. He's worth his salary if he plays like he did in 2013. The problem is that the makeup of the rest of the defense means he has to do that for the unit to even be league-average.
SB: Your analysis that the Colts defense really doesn't have much outside of Robert Mathis was spot on, but I did find interesting your not mentioning linebacker Jerrell Freeman until late in the section as sort of a side note about the front seven. Many Colts fans feel that Freeman is one of the biggest and most important pieces to the defense - is that a correct assumption, and is that more because of the lack of other talent on the defense or because of Freeman himself?
McCown: Freeman is a fine middle linebacker. I think a huge part of fandom is looking for positives in a situation where things aren't always there, and on a better defense I feel like Freeman would be more anonymous. Unless he's an upper-echelon pass defender or blitzer, I feel like it's hard to be an impact player as a middle linebacker -- being merely a good player is no slight on Freeman.
SB: Your praise for quarterback Andrew Luck was clearly evident, and there has been a lot of discussion about where Luck ranks in regards to other quarterbacks. Could you put a few of Luck's stats (such as DYAR, DVOA, etc.) into comparison with the rest of the league, and what one area would you say stands out for Luck having to improve in the most?
McCown: Luck had a mediocre year in advanced metrics because advanced metrics are not able to fully separate the quarterback from his system. If Drew Brees had led the league in quarterback knockdowns the last two seasons and spent the last half of the season throwing to exactly one good wide receiver, his numbers, too, would suffer like Luck's have.
The only issue Luck has is bouts of inconsistent play. He'll have an out-of-character half here or there, and since he's the most important player on the field, that half can doom a team that has little to offer outside of him.
SB: True or false - this Colts team is a Super Bowl contender, considering they still have Andrew Luck at quarterback.
McCown: I can forge a scenario in my head where this passing game becomes a monster and the Colts win the Super Bowl with a repeat Mathis season hassling opposing offenses enough to keep them honest. I don't think Luck alone is valuable enough to make the Colts automatic Super Bowl contenders just yet. But, since the Colts have the fortune of playing in a conference with just two real Super Bowl contenders, anything is possible.
A huge thanks to Rivers McCown for taking the time to answer these questions, and the 2014 Football Outsiders Almanac is available for purchase from the Football Outsiders website and from Amazon. Their section on the Colts is very accurate and insightful, as are the sections about the other NFL teams as well. For any football fan, this is a must read.