Every week Colts.com features a blog written by one of our fans. This week’s blog was submitted by Ken Truckenmiller.
Reality can be painful, at times. I have been a Colts fan since 1968, so I have had some years like this to deal with , in the past. It’s never easy and certainly not fun. I seem to have a very different perspective on this season than most EVERYONE, maybe that’s due to having dealt with it before or …..something else.
I have to start with the most telling stats:
115 wins in a decade-NFL record
7 consecutive 12 win seasons- NFL record
9 consecutive playoff appearances-NFL record
23 consecutive wins-NFL record
There is a pattern here, the NFL has been around for 91 years, yet no team has ever done it before, I have to repeat-EVER! There have been some very dominating teams over the years and in todays salary cap era, domination isn’t supposed to happen, the system is set up to keep teams from dominating, yet the Colts did.
The one thing that I think really dictates greatness in the NFL, is track record, if a person or team have a great track record over many years, that dictates greatness! It is a short list. When a team has that degree of success, it indicates…..great leaders (top to bottom) great coaches, great players, a great system, there is no other explanation.
Peyton Manning is one of, if not the best ever to play his position, but to think that he did all of that, all by himself, is naive and ……………
I have read all year, everywhere, that the Colts are done….rebuild, start from scratch, severe lack of talent, leaderless, how can it get so bad, so fast………
What’s the true indicator, one year or a decade? I know this is a what have you done lately business, but when a team has shown greatness over an extended period of time, that has to be considered in the thought process.
Football is complicated and at the same time , very simple. There are win-loss records,stats,etc…….but there are also reasons and you have to really watch, really look and really understand to see why. You have to really want to know why.
It starts at QB, if you do not have a quality QB ,winning is very difficult. If you have a great defense and/or running game, you MIGHT make up for that. The best you can hope for is some wins. maybe .500, maybe. If that player happens to be one of the best ever to play the game and he isn’t playing, the consequences will be very severe, “any” QB who tries to fill in, will come up ….short. Add to that a rebuilt O-line, with 4 “new” starters and it can get kind of crazy.
Injuries are part of football, epidemics are not, if you lose 1/3 of your starters and many more missing games, that makes a bad situation worse. Young players need time and reps to develop, they learn as they grow, if they are forced to play before they have gained that experience, it can look …ugly. When “that” QB isn’t playing, opposing teams have a totally different game plan, not a game plan of keep up, which is how the defense is built, but a game plan of keep away and a run the ball-time of procession style of play, which is not how the defense was built. It’s all part of that system.
Winning one game in the NFL is very hard, teams that have a history of success tend to make it seem easier than it really is. There are a small handful of teams that have dominated for an extended period of time, there is a reason for that, it’s not the norm. They are the exception, not the rule. They have proven over time, that it takes a total, complete system in place, to cover all of the countless decisions that need to be made, for that success to continue.
When we view this season, the losses, the stats, it looks hopeless, it’s not, far from it. The system is still in place and it’s proven, that’s hope in itself. What comes next is talent level, how good is it? There is a difference between a bad team and a team that is playing bad, bad teams lack talent ( and leadership) teams that are playing bad, usually are making (critical ) mistakes (fumbles, interceptions, penalties,missed tackles, missed assignments,etc). There is a difference between a bad player and a young player, young players will make mistakes, that’s a given , even great young players will make mistakes. It can take 2-3 years and even more, in some cases for players to adjust to the NFL and play like they are capable of playing.
What we are seeing this year is a team without it’s best player, missing 9 players who were either starters or part of the starting rotation ( we are getting close to half the starting lineup) and too many other players who have missed time, to compete on a weekly, consistent basis. Consistency is really the key to the year, good in spurts, but not for a full 60 minutes of football.
The system is in place, the leaders are in place, the talent level is fine ( when healthy-and it has nothing to do with conditioning) you can thank the football gods for that. When everything is in place, the only thing left is time (patience) . There is no reason to panic, or over react. With a 91 year history, there really isn’t much that happens now, that hasn’t happened , many times before, so there are plenty of scenarios that can be looked at, to get the needed perspective.
The final pieces of this puzzle, will take place this off season, when many decisions will need to be made, who stays, who goes. It’s still early, but the signs are pointing to Peyton being 100% next year and if he returns ( and he better be ) I feel very strongly that drafting a QB #1 overall, is not a good way to win championships, it is a great way to win games-but not championships. My hope is that we have that pick, trade it away and re stock what I think is a very good team already.
There are so many clichés used in this league and most of them are quite accurate, it’s never as bad as it seems, when you lose……
It’s not excuses, it’s not blue colored glasses, it’s reality.
Posted in Fan Feature
Every week Colts.com features a blog written by one of our fans. This week’s blog was submitted by Peter Harter.
Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts on their first win of the year over the Tennessee Titans yesterday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts had a great crowd in attendance as always. The offense and defense both gave their best performances of the year, but the telling difference to me was the vastly improved play of the offensive line. The national media may consider these games without playoff significance (at least for the Colts) to be ‘meaningless,’ but I for one have enjoyed watching the weekly progression of our offensive line, and I believe the Colts will be ready to return to contender status after a productive off season and draft.
The Colts are in the seemingly unique situation of having a chance to win their way out of the number one draft slot. With victories in their final games, the Colts could lose their chance to draft highly touted quarterback Andrew Luck. But long time Colts fans will remember that this has all happened before. This season has taken on an uncanny similarity to a season 25 years ago, when in week fourteen of 1986, the 0 – 13 Colts traveled to Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium to take on the Falcons. Like this season’s Tennessee Titans, the Falcons entered week 14 still in contention for a playoff birth. I was only eleven years old when the game took place, but for me it will forever have special significance, for it was actually my fervent prayer to God that caused Tate Randle to block the Falcons punt, and Eugene Daniel to scoop up the ball and run it in for the winning touchdown.
The day began like every Sunday at my house, with my father rousing our family for church. My two younger brothers and I were forced to shower and dress, and then our family solemnly marched into the sanctuary. Our church was a praying, bible reading, God fearing church, and our pastor was a large man with a deep booming voice who struck fear and good manners into every child in attendance. “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name,” echoed his deep voice, “There am I in the midst of them.”
When the service was over and the fellowship had died down, those who had not been intoxicated by the holy ghost returned to their cars and took the short trip back to their houses. I grabbed our family’s small box radio and tuned to WOWO 1190 AM, as I always did, because I knew the Colts were about to begin their game. Though the Colts had lost the opening thirteen games of the season I had good reason to hope that they would win this game. The Colts had just fired the hapless Rod Dowhower the previous week, and hired Ron Meyer as head coach. I knew this move would energize and motivate the Colts solid corps of players, who were worth rooting for, even in the worst of seasons.
The game itself was very poorly attended. On a blustery rainy day in Atlanta, almost no one wanted to pay good money to sit in the rain watching the Falcons beat the winless Colts. The outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion among the Falcons and their fans. Since the game did not sell out, it was blacked out in the Atlanta area, and because the Colts were out of playoff contention, NBC decided to air a different game at its South Bend affiliate. I’m not sure if the game was televised live anywhere in the country. I could have cared less that the game was not televised. In our family, the kids were not normally allowed to watch TV or listen to popular music, but I was allowed to listen to sporting events on the radio.
Bob Lamey’s play by play still heats my blood today, but as a child, the voice of our great radio man had a tremendous effect on me. I’m sure all true Colts fans still mute the awful ex-Buffalo Bill TV commentators (take your pick, they are all bad), and tune into the Colts radio network. What I love about Lamey is that he seems to have a genuine respect and affection for our players. And in return, the players of the Indianapolis Colts have always played with a genuine respect for the game and their fans. Not every team in the NFL has the disciplined play and professionalism that Colts fans have come to expect. I still consider Dwayne Bickett to be the best linebacker in Indianapolis Colts history, and John Hand was toughest guy in the division, and Cliff Odom was a grizzled veteran who ate nails for breakfast, because that’s what Bob Lamey made it seem like. It probably was not far from the truth.
In the first quarter the Colts got off to their customary slow start. In those days the Colts had a way of digging a comfortable deficit early in the game, and then playing just well enough to have a slight chance in the fourth quarter. I now recognize this as a losing mentality that many bad teams display throughout the sporting world, not just in pro football. Early in the second quarter, the Colts found themselves behind by two scores. Field conditions caused several turnovers and the momentum swung rapidly between the two teams. As the first half neared its conclusion, the Colts defense, who had been gashed by the Falcons’ running attack, bowed up its effort and stopped the Falcons on three straight rushes inside the five yard line. The stand kept the game close, and gave the Colts momentum heading into the locker room. For a more detailed rundown of the game, see the recent article by Kevin Bowen and Craig Kelley entitled “Series Flashback: 1986, 2003, 2007” on Colts.com.
The Colts opened the third quarter with a sustained touchdown drive capped off by Gary Hogeboom’s touchdown pass to wide receiver Matt Bouza. Hogeboom had not played a down since September, and his reinstatement by coach Meyer signified the fact that the Colts intended to fight till the season ended. After a pair of Falcon field goals stretched the lead to nine points, the Colts scored again to cut the lead to two when wide receiver Billy Brooks caught a two yard touchdown pass with under eight minutes remaining.
This is what Colts fans had been waiting for. All they needed now was a stop on defense, a final drive, and a game winning field goal and they could sneak out of Atlanta with a 24 – 23 victory. But instead the talented Falcons offense took charge, driving the ball at will into Colts territory, and eating up the game clock. The excruciating tension in Bob Lamey’s voice as the Falcons piled up yardage and the game clock dwindled became almost unbearable. On a third down play with under a minute remaining, Colts linebacker Dave Ahrens sacked the Atlanta quarterback at the Colts 48 yard line, but apparently Ahrens’ effort had come too late. A punt would bury the Colts deep in their own end with no timeouts, and no chance of a game winning drive. The Falcons let the clock run all the way down and called time out with only half a minute left.
I knew the Colts had to block the punt or they would lose yet another game. I couldn’t bear the thought. Desperately, I made my two brothers join hands with me in prayer, recalling the pastor’s sermon from that morning. It was then that I said the most intent and serious prayer I have ever said. I don’t remember the words I used but I remember the tension in my guts. I doubled over in pain and rolled around on the floor for what seemed like several minutes. Then I remember peace flooding over me and I knew before the play took place that my prayer had been answered. At the snap of the ball the Falcons punt protection mysteriously collapsed. Defensive back Tate Randle ran free into the Falcon’s backfield and blocked the punt. The ball squirmed furiously off to the left and cornerback Eugene Daniel found it and ran it in for the game winning score.
Even then the game was not over. Atlanta had time to throw two first down completions before the game’s final pass fell incomplete in the end zone. The Colts had done it, miraculously beating the Atlanta Falcons on the road 28 – 23. After a season of brutal disappointment, this game was a vindication of the players courage and their forthright effort in Atlanta led to two more victories as the Colts finished the season 3 – 13. Because of their late season spurt, the Colts missed the first pick in the draft, which went instead to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who selected Vinnie Testeverde, a highly touted quarterback from the University of Miami.
The Colts winning streak at the end of the 1986 season also carried over into 1987. In a season marred by a player’s strike, the Colts’ scabs started that year 3 – 0 with spirited performances by kick returner Clarence Verdin. The Colts finished the 1987 campaign with a 9 – 7 record and an AFC East division championship. Their playoff loss to the Browns was the first such appearance by the Colts since they moved to Indianapolis.
That was 25 years ago. The Colts were still pretty new in town then. If anything has really changed over the years its that the fans and media have become a little bit jaded by the success of the team with Peyton Manning as quarterback. Now these games without playoff implications are ‘meaningless’ in eyes of the national media. The national and local media personalities tend to imagine themselves in the role of the management, who must, because of the nature of their positions, have a slightly more cynical and less romanticized view of the games. But lets remember, to the dad who saved up to take his kid to his first Colts game (and who can’t control the team’s record, whether it be 13 – 0 or 0 – 13) the game is not meaningless. To the player who might score the only touchdown in his NFL career, or be awarded the only game ball that he’ll ever get the game is not meaningless. As a culture, we are so glutted with media coverage and video from every game in every sport that sports have lost their purity. All I have to do is listen to a professional gambler or a sports talk analyst blabber on about sports for ten minutes before I get sick to my stomach. When did we get so jaded?
On a final note I just wanted to mention that I am a fan and supporter of coach Caldwell. In ’86 it was the right move to bring in Ron Meyer at the end of the year. I don’t think a similar move is necessary now. We don’t need a superstar head coach, we just need a solid guy who demands professionalism from everyone, and we already have that. This season has been about building the offensive line. Our line is playing much better now than it did in September, and next year it will be better still. This is definitely an interesting time when the team is in flux and all the players, coaches and managers will have their work cut out for them this off season. Finally, we are still lucky to have the Colts. The Colts gave Indy its first and only major championship. Now that we’ve built them a new brick house, we’ve got them for the foreseeable future—and they’ve got us.
Posted in Fan Feature
Every week Colts.com features a blog written by one of our fans. This week’s blog was submitted by Jaggededge.
Greetings, Colts faithful. I hope that all is well with you and yours as we prepare to celebrate yet another holiday. Unfortunately, the celebration will not involve marveling at our Colts as they play for another post season berth or title. The sad fact is we are now only three games away from setting a dubious record for losses matched only by the hapless Detroit Lions in 2008 unless of course you believe in miracles. I do believe in a miracle but he wears number 18 and we will have to get a win without his help this year.
I just watched the Ravens send our team the message that beatdowns in their house would be …”Nevermore, nevermore.” As I watched that game the camera repeatedly showed glimpses of the only man who could maybe make a difference in this statement game as well as all of the previous games the Colts had suffered losses in. This man, when he played the signal caller position, was the reason the Colts were hard to beat. This man was indeed the unforseen MVP, for the team and would have been the x-factor or difference maker for all of the games the Colts had managed to lose.
I of course am referring to the guy whom I call Mister Miracle of the 56th street Colts complex. To the rest of you and the world you know him as Peyton Manning. He is in my eyes, the cause for the Colts woes and he is also the cure. Let me elaborate on this profound statement. I say he is the cause because the Colts current drafting and roster picks are designed around Peyton to enhance his style of play which is our fast start on offense and our quicker defense against opposing teams who are forced to play catch up. When it works it is ingenious but when this module (the actual Colts offensive and defensive design or approach to playing games as created by architect and past GM Bill Polian) is inverted then it becomes the disaster kind of like thing that we are currently witnessing. As with any module, you can only stretch it so far before it needs to be either infused with new talent or blown up. Typically the life cycle on being the top dog for most NFL teams ebbs and flows about every three to five years anyway so we were in the bonus, folks. Does that make you feel better or sleep more comfortably at night after watching a Colts game?
When Peyton is playing, or whomever the Colts place at the helm as quarterback is playing this game we are a handful, as Coach Dungy use to be fond of saying. However, although we cannot be stopped when we are on unfortunately, we also cannot win when we are off. This is the secret that the Colts have let out to the NFL world. We have a below average defense, inferior special teams, an inferior offensive line and an adequate running game and below average passing game without Manning. If you add in our average coach and play in the NFL you get the results we now see which is what our record says we are… 0-13. No other top five quarterback could stand behind our offensive line and complete the passes Manning completed with the protection he had and score the way the other quarterbacks are now scoring or playing in the game today. Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Rivers in that order would fare (In my honest homer opinion) even worse than Manning as far as completion percentages and stats and wins.
So since the whole Colts player styles is predicated on Manning, and the Colts organization financially is cash strapped because of Manning, he is the cause of being where the Colts are. The Cots strength through drafting approach and not paying top dollar for free agency is all because of a lack of money. Again because Manning commands a lion’s portion of the money under the salary cap. Also, since Manning is now injured and temporarily unavailable to us except as a quarterback assistant, we can now see the flaws of the team more clearly. I shudder to think how many rings Manning would have if he had superior talent in all of the areas I just mentioned above? I think more than one ring for sure most of you readers would have to agree. Of course the other side of the equation is Manning’s greed and the Colts catering to it is what put us in this situation in the first place so I can blame him a little.
So what does Manning bring for the money? When Manning (Mister Miracle) returns to the game next year the Colts will win again and it will be like night and day compared to this years team. It truly makes sense that if Manning is the cause he would also be the cure for what ails the Colts. Also, the Colts will have his future replacement in training if they take Andrew Luck, plus a revamped running game and all of the areas they are deficient in will have went through close scrutiny and will be addressed. They will have seasoned backup quarterbacks in Painter and Orlovsky as well. Bill and Chris Polian will have once again extended or renewed the module that brought them years of dominance in the AFC South. I still see Manning if unable to be an effective quarterback staying with the Colts and making the team better just by his presence. He does so much for the team. So consider this year as not our team tanking but rather a speed mound we had to run across.(mounds are a little bit bigger than bumps) It will also follow team tendencies in the NFL- which is to deplete personnel or have ups and downs. Remember, we were overdue for the down and this is it folks. Do not forget to factor in the injuries due to the shortened season and we have a recipe for disaster. I would gladly take all the wins we have enjoyed as fans to have a year down like this and show me any other team fans in the league who would disagree and I will show you someone who does not grasp the Colts concept. We are not the Patriots, Saints, Ravens, or Steelers. We are designed differently from all of these clubs. We do not approach the game the way they do for if we did we would not beat them. They are predicated on strength and we are predicated on speed and timing. We play to our strengths as do they and in the past we were so good at it that the rest of the NFL was in a learning curve. They have caught up and deciphered our clues. This is where Peyton excelled as he was always keeping one step ahead of his competitors.
Mister Miracle, is actually a double entendre since (it will be a miracle if he can play the game after his operations at the level he was before) Manning brings so much more than shall we say “luck” to the team. We will have Manning’s field general presence, his intelligence, and then if you throw in a little Luck and combine that with a Horseshoe and Viola! It should be all we need if we combine some talented players and a great training system that is teachable to those players.
So, right now fans we need to show more support than ever for this team and we just need to stay in the saddle and ride this season on out. I still think the Colts will win a game this year and that it will be one of the home games..as long as Orlovsky is playing that is. I still do not have the confidence in Painter to win one in the clutch and although Orlovsky, is not a proven commodity, I think he will get it done. I pay no attention to the media or fair weather and band wagon fans because they are not familiar with adversity. It is what we the fans and the players go through and are born out of that creates the resolve and end product that our Colts have become. In order to be a veteran you have to have once been a beginner somewhere and in order to be a winner you had to step back or lose at first in order to learn how to win.
Although I do not disbelieve in luck, I do believe in miracles. Especially Mister Miracle. He and the Polian Hierarchy will fix the problems and offer solutions. A great quarterback fixes everything. Manning will be the salve for the Colts wounds in 2012. You read it here first. As Coach Caldwell is fond of saying “it is all correctable.”
Winning is not only a state of mind, but natural talent, great leadership and individuals playing as a team toward a common goal. However nothing happens until we win the first game. If we win a game this year I would consider it a miracle with what all we have had to overcome. The question is do you, I and the Colts believe we will win a game this year? Do you believe in miracles? I do. If we all believe it then that is the first step to making it happen. In the end the players do have to play the game though. They have to play to win instead of playing to lose. If we can do that then next year the Miracle will continue from there.
Posted in Fan Feature
Every week Colts.com features a blog written by one of our fans. This week’s blog was submitted by 21issuperman.
There is a common saying in the NFL that goes “The NFL stands for Not For Long”. In other words, the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league. Take, for example, Andy Reid. He is the second longest tenured coach in the NFL behind Bill Belichick, has been to 5 NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl, and has won 6 division titles. Despite all of this, many believe Reid is on the hot seat because of his team’s lacklustre performance this season. What has Reid done for the Eagles lately? Not a lot.
Many Colts fans are beginning to feel the same way as Eagles fans: frustrated. How has a perennial Super Bowl contender gone to league cellar dweller after the loss of just one player? Sure, they did lose one of the greatest QBs ever to play the game, but football is after all a team sport. Blame is being passed around like the mashed potatoes at a dinner table, with hefty portions going to the coaching staff, owner Jim Irsay, and Bill Polian; Polian will be the focus of our discussion.
Bill Polian is known for being able to draft very well and has a history of turning perennial losers into winners. However, some claim that as of late, Polian is losing his touch in his drafting. They say the best time to judge a player is 3 years into the league, so let’s take a look at the Colts draft picks from 2007 and 2008 and see how Polian has really done and give him a draft GPA. In looking at undrafted rookies, points will only be awarded. No points will be deducted because the team does not lose anything.
|Round: 1||Pick (overall): 32||Player: Anthony Gonzalez – WR – OSU|
|Analysis:||The curious case of Anthony Gonzalez. When healthy, Gonzalez has great chemistry with Peyton Manning and can really make some plays. In his first two years, Gonzalez caught 94 passes for 1240 yards and 7 TDs. Those are pretty solid numbers considering he played in an offense that included Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Unfortunately, despite his promising start, Gonzalez hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He suited up for just 3 games combined in 2009 and 2010, catching 5 passes for 67 yards; this season, Gonzo has suited up for 6 games, but hasn’t caught a single pass (which admittedly, is more likely to happen when your QB is Curtis Painter than when it is Peyton Manning). Gonzalez has become more of a luxury; it is nice to have him out there, but the offense will be fine without him.|
|Could have had:||The next WR taken was Sidney Rice, who has done pretty well for himself. Paul Posluszny was taken 2 picks after Gonzo and has turned out to be a solid NFL linebacker.|
|Grade:||B (3.0). Gonzo has tons of potential and if he could have stayed healthy, he would have been an excellent pick. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and is a luxury, rather than a starter. That’s not what you want from your first round picks.|
|Round: 2||Pick (overall): 42||Player: Tony Ugoh – OT – Arkansas|
|Analysis:||The Colts traded up to get this pick. Ugoh had a solid rookie season and for the most part, he was able to keep people off of Peyton Manning. He seemed like he would be the replacement for Tarik Glenn. However, Ugoh become complacent and lazy; his play began to slip and he would end up losing the LT spot to Charlie Johnson. Ugoh was waived by the Colts in 2010, not lasting 3 years with the team that drafted him.|
|Could have had:||The next offensive lineman taken was Pro Bowler Ryan Kalil (who plays center, not tackle). The next tackle taken was James Marten to the Cowboys (he is no longer in the NFL). The best player available at this time was again Sidney Rice. Steve Smith was also available. As was LaMarr Woodley (though he has shined in a 3-4 defensive scheme and there is no telling how he would do in a 4-3 stuck behind Mathis and Freeney).|
|Grade:||B- (2.7). Ugoh did have lots of talent and promise, but he became lazy. Hard to pin that on Polian, which is why that is a B- and not a C-.|
|Round: 3||Pick (overall): 95||Player: Dante Hughes – CB – California|
|Analysis:||Dante Hughes did not have a spectacular career with the Colts. He was waived in 2009 after getting 1 interception, defending 4 passes and 30 tackles in 24 games with the Colts.|
|Could have had:||The next CB taken was A.J. Davis to the Lions. Michael Bush was available, though the Colts had the duo of Addai and Rhodes going, so RB was not a position of need. Safety Tanard Jackson went 106th overall to the Bucs.|
|Grade:||C (2.0). Hughes did nothing for the Colts. If the Colts had taken Tanard, they could have had a solid backup for the oft-injured Bob Sanders.|
|Round: 3||Pick (overall): 98 (compensatory)||Player: Quinn Pitcock – DT – OSU|
|Analysis:||Quinn Pitcock was said to have lots of potential. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for either the Colts or Quinn. Pitcock retired after one season due to bouts with depression and a video game addiction. Pitcock’s NFL career was not spectacular, to say the least.|
|Could have had:||The next DT taken was Paul Soliai to the Dolphins; he has done pretty well for himself, though it could be said that Soliai is better suited for the 3-4 than the 4-3. Tanard Jackson was still available, as was Zak DeOssie|
|Grade:||C- (1.7). He had no impact on the team, though he did have lots of potential.|
|Round: 4||Pick (overall): 131||Player: Brannon Condren – S – Troy|
|Analysis:||Brannon Condren did next to nothing for the Colts. He is currently a free agent and has spent time with a number of teams, including the Jets and Bengals.|
|Could have had:||Le’Ron McClain was taken 6 picks later, though you could say that the Colts offense wasn’t the best place for a FB. Steve Breaston and Kevin Boss were both available|
|Grade:||F (0). Condren did nothing for the Colts.|
|Round: 4||Pick (overall): 136 (compensatory)||Player: Clint Session – LB – Pittsburgh|
|Analysis:||Clint was a great player for the Colts. He was the hardest hitting of the LBs and was the best run stuffer of the group. In his first year as a starter, Clint amassed 94 tackles while playing in all 16 games. In his 3rd year with the Colts, he had over 100 tackles and 2 picks in 14 games. Clint’s 2010 season was shortened due to injury. After that season, he was a free agent and he signed a big contract with the Jaguars. Session was a great player, but not worth the 5 year-$30 million contract the Jags gave him.|
|Could have had:||Again, McClain was available. The next LB taken was Dallas Sartz (who is no longer in the NFL) to the Redskins. The Colts got a great player here.|
|Grade:||B+ (3.3). Solid player. Would have been nice to keep him, but he wasn’t worth that contract.|
|Round: 5||Pick (overall): 169||Player: Roy Hall – WR – OSU|
|Analysis:||Like Gonzalez, Hall had tons of potential. He had all the physical tools (4.4 40 yard dash, 37 inch vertical, 10’+ broad jump), but was never able to stay healthy.|
|Could have had:||The next WR taken was Legedu Naanee who hasn’t done too badly for himself. The very next pick was William Gay, a starting CB for the Steelers.|
|Grade:||C (2.0). Hall had potential; it’s hard to blame injuries on Polian.|
|Round: 5||Pick (overall): 173||Player: Michael Coe – CB – Alabama State|
|Analysis:||Coe also didn’t have a great impact for the Colts. He now plays for the Giants|
|Could have had:||The next CB taken was David Irons (not in the NFL anymore). Desmond Bishop was available.|
|Grade:||C- (1.7). He contributed very little.|
|Round: 7||Pick (overall): 242||Player: Keyunta Dawson – LB – Texas Tech|
|Analysis:||Dawson was a LB/DE hybrid. The Colts used him mostly on the DL, rather than as a LB. Dawson was a decent player. He was never flashy and wasn’t a starter, but you could put him in there for a few plays while your starters got some rest.|
|Could have had:||Ahmad Bradshaw was available, but Dawson was a solid pick.|
|Grade:||B+ (3.3). He provided depth, and keep in mind he was taken in the 7th round.|
|Round: Undrafted||Pick (overall): N/A||Player: Melvin Bullitt – S – Texas A&M|
|Analysis:||Bullitt has been a solid player for the Colts. He provided decent depth behind Bob Sanders and was reliable to be there when Bob went down. He quickly turned into a team leader and was voted by his teammates to be a team captain. Unfortunately, he has been getting injured a lot recently and hasn’t had much of an on-field impact for the team.|
|Could have had:||Pierre Thomas was available as an undrafted player, but Bullitt was a solid pick up.|
|Grade:||B+ (3.3). Bullitt stepped up and played decently when Bob was hurt. He was seen as a leader by his teammates. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.|
Polian’s overall GPA for the 2007 draft: 2.3
On to the 2008 draft:
|Round: 2||Pick (overall): 59||Player: Mike Pollak – C – Arizona State|
|Analysis:||When Pollak came into the league, his play was not very good. He was continually getting beat while taking snaps at guard. As he gained more experience, his play slowly improved. It has been said that his best position is center, so he will get a chance to show us whether or not he was worthy of being picked so high.|
|Could have had:||Kevin Smith, Earl Bennett, Tavares Gooden and Jamaal Charles were all available.|
|Grade:||B+ (3.3). He hasn’t shown much, but has been improving and hasn’t even had a chance to show his stuff at his best position.|
|Round: 3||Pick (overall): 93||Player: Philip Wheeler – LB – Georgia Tech|
|Analysis:||Like Pollak, Wheeler didn’t do so great when he got his first chance to play. He was consistently out of position and eventually lost his starting position. Wheeler kept working and today, he is one of the better defensive players on the Colts. He has become a very good pass rushing linebacker and has been one of the few bright spots on the Colts team. His game just keeps getting better as he gets more experience.|
|Could have had:||Mario Manningham was taken a couple of spots after Wheeler, but I think this was the best option. There are no other big name players at this point. This was a solid pick.|
|Grade:||B+ (3.3). Started off poorly, but Wheeler kept fighting and is now a solid player.|
|Round: 4||Pick (overall): 127||Player: Jacob Tamme – TE – Kentucky|
|Analysis:||Tamme didn’t play much at first. But last year, an injury to Dallas Clark threw him into the starter’s role and he responded. He put up great numbers and while he didn’t have the same impact as a Dallas Clark, he played very well. He put up great numbers and allowed the TE position to be a safety blanket for Peyton.|
|Could have had:||Brandon Carr was selected 140th and has been a decent corner, but Tamme was an excellent pick and I wouldn’t have this pick any other way.|
|Grade:||A (4.0). A 4th round pick came in and took the place of one of the primary targets on one of the better offenses in the league. He responded and posted up great numbers.|
|Round: 5||Pick (overall): 161||Player: Marcus Howard – DE – Georgia|
|Analysis:||I personally liked Marcus Howard. However, when you are stuck behind 2 All Pro DEs in Freeney and Mathis, it will be hard to get playing time and make an impact. Howard was waived in 2009, but is doing pretty well for himself in the CFL.|
|Could have had:||Carl Nicks would have been a beautiful pick.|
|Grade:||C+ (2.3). Decent player, but didn’t have much of an impact.|
|Round: 6||Pick (overall): 196||Player: Tom Santi – TE – Virginia|
|Analysis:||Hasn’t had a huge impact for the team, but it is hard to do that considering his situation. The starter at his position is an All Pro and the backup played very well. It’s hard to make an impact when you’re stuck behind two very good players.|
|Could have had:||No big names stand out|
|Grade:||C (2.0). Hasn’t had much of an impact.|
|Round: 6||Pick (overall): 201 (compensatory)||Player: Steve Justice – C – Wake Forest|
|Analysis:||I never really noticed Steve out there. Although, like Santi, it is hard to make an impact when the starter doesn’t miss many games and his backup is a 2nd round talent.|
|Could have had:||No big names stand out.|
|Grade:||C (2.0). Didn’t have much of an impact and is no longer in the NFL|
|Round: 6||Pick (overall): 202 (compensatory)||Player: Mike Hart – RB – Michigan|
|Analysis:||Hart had through-the-roof potential. When he was able to show the team what he had, he did pretty well. Unfortunately, he was not able to do so very often due to injuries. I personally wish we could have kept him, but he was not able to stay healthy enough.|
|Could have had:||No big names stand out.|
|Grade:||C+ (2.3). He did well when given the opportunity, but was not able to stay healthy.|
|Round: 6||Pick (overall): 205 (compensatory)||Player: Pierre Garcon – WR – Mount Union|
|Analysis:||Pierre has been a solid receiver for the Colts. He has stepped into a starting role and found his groove in the offense. He has all the physical tools (speed, strength, toughness) to be successful, but he does have some issues with dropping passes. It is very frustrating to watch because he will make a circus catch, but follow it up by dropping a very catchable pass. Considering he is a 6th round pick and the impact he has had, this was a great selection.|
|Could have had:||Stevie Johnson was taken 19 picks later. Johnson has shown that he can be the number 1 receiver in an offense. Still, Garcon has done well.|
|Grade:||B+ (3.3). Has had a great impact for the team, just needs to work on his hands|
|Round: 7||Pick (overall): 236||Player: Jamey Richard – C – Buffalo|
|Analysis:||Jamey Richard didn’t get much playing time during his tenure with the Colts, but when he did (he got some playing time in 2008 due to an injury to Saturday), he played very well. He played well to the point of being named to Pro Football Weekly’s All Rookie team. He is currently a free agent, but has shown that he can play and do a solid job (being center for an offense led by Peyton Manning is no easy task).|
|Could have had:||No big names stand out.|
|Grade:||B- (2.7). He wasn’t able to stay on the team for a long period of time, but did his job well when called upon.|
|Round: Undrafted||Pick (overall): N/A||Player: Eric Foster – DT – Rutgers|
|Analysis:||Foster has become a solid player on the defensive line. He isn’t too big, but he has speed and his motor is always running. He suffered a pretty gruesome injury this year, but has done a decent job for the team in the past and even turned into a starter.|
|Could have had:||No big names stand out. Other solid undrafted rookies in this draft include Davone Bess, Kyle Arrington, Danny Woodhead and Jamie Silva (who was picked up by the Colts).|
|Grade:||B (3.0). You don’t often find a guy with his leadership and motor as an undrafted player. Great pickup.|
Polian’s overall GPA for the 2008 NFL draft: 2.8
In the last two years, Bill Polian’s draft picks earn a 2.55 by my rankings. Sure, it’s no 4.0, but expecting a 4.0 is completely unrealistic; 2.55 is a solid ranking. Polian has done a very good job of finding late round impact players. Many of his picks (Gonzalez, Hart, and Bullitt to name a few) have been injured and not able to have a big impact, but we can’t expect Polian to see into the future and predict injuries. There are a number of reasons why the team is not performing well this year, but there is not a good case for the “lack of talent” excuse; Polian has done a great job of bringing in talent, but poor coaching has not been able to take advantage of it. Clearly, the talent is there. It’s just a matter of finding a way to bring it all together. That responsibility falls on the coaching staff, not on Polian.
As for the people who want Polian to be fired, I don’t understand it. He has created successful teams in Buffalo (made 4 consecutive Super Bowls), Carolina (went to the NFC Championship game), Montreal (won a Grey Cup), Winnipeg (won a Grey Cup) and Indianapolis (2 Super Bowl appearances in 4 years, a Super Bowl title, many division titles, and more). He is a 6-time NFL Executive of the Year award. If Polian has really lost his edge in recent years, we would be talking about this team as though 0-11 in the norm, not an anomaly. If you don’t want a guy with a proven track record on your side, send him over to my team. We will gladly take him. What has Polian done for the Colts lately? Quite a lot.
Posted in Fan Feature
Hey Colts Fans! We’re excited to announce a new blog category called “Fan Feature.” Starting next week, we will spotlight a different fan forum member’s blog post every week. The lucky member will be contacted and asked to submit a blog exclusively to blogs.colts.com. The chosen fan’s blog will be posted here, along with their name, as well as in an official Colts Facebook page update, and will include a link back to their profile
Now is your chance to share your thoughts, opinions, predictions and more about the Colts. If you’d like to be considered to write a future blog post be sure to join the Indianapolis Colts Fan Forum and submit your blog idea to the moderators.
Make your voice heard by the rest of Colts nation today!
Posted in Fan Feature