GM & Owner’s Offseason Failures Contribute to Colts 0-2 Start

The Indianapolis Colts are in a world of trouble.  Following their embarrassing performance in Buffalo week one of the season, they faced off against the New York Jets Monday night in Indianapolis; and looked even worse.  The final score was 20-7 Jets, but that score isn’t indicative to the grotesque performance the Colts put forth that night.

Andrew Luck had arguably his ugliest game as a starting quarterback; four turnovers including three interceptions and a fumble.  His state line read, 21-37, 250 yards, 1TD, 3 INT’s; not something you’d expect to see from a preseason MVP candidate.  Throughout the game the Jets defense was having their way with him and there was nothing Luck could do about it.  He tried to get the offense on track by any means necessary which caused him to force throws, which of course led to those interceptions.

Luck is an incredible talent, but the kid has to stop turning the ball over.  He led the league with turnovers last year and is leading it again with six [in two games].  Whether it’s taking a sack or throwing the ball away; he has to learn to live ‘another down’.

It goes without saying that Luck has had a horrendous start to the 2015 season, but he’s not the main reason why the Colts are 0-2; that award goes to the GM Ryan Grigson and owner Jim Irsay.  Grigson has been well aware of the offensive line issues for this team and hasn’t done a thing to fix it.  Rather than drafting an offensive lineman with their first pick this year, they went with a wide receiver.  Naturally, that was right choice given how the Colts had the number one passing attack in the NFL last season; drafting another wide-out makes perfect sense.

Anyone who understands football realizes that if a team has a weak offensive line, it’s near impossible for the quarterback to succeed; just ask Eli Manning or Tony Romo pre-2013.  The Colts have had a revolving door of lineman since Luck entered the league in 2012.  Here is what the offensive line has consisted of since 2012; 9 different left guards, 5 different centers, 6 different right guards and 6 different right tackles.  Given those statistics, it wouldn’t matter if the Colts drafted the next Randy Moss and Jerry Rice at wide receiver; they wouldn’t be successful because Luck wouldn’t/doesn’t have time to throw them the ball.

The Indianapolis Colts are in trouble but they have one safety net; they’re playing in the weakest division in the league.  Their next three games are against their division rivals, Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee; all of whom are a combined 1-11 against the Colts since Luck’s rookie year.  If they have any shot at making the playoffs, they need to sweep all of their divisional games.

I believe they will win their next three games, finish out the season with a 10-6 record and make the playoffs.  However, they’ll be fortunate to make it out of the first round with this team as currently constructed.  If the GM and owner are smart, they’re already in the process of trying to find a way to fix their deficiencies on the offensive line.  If they don’t, Luck might look around the league and find a franchise that is willing to take the necessary steps to surround him with the talent that will help him win a championship.

*To all those who are condemning Luck as a turnover machine and ‘overhyped’, you sound ridiculous.  Yes, he’s having a rough beginning to the season, but don’t forget that he took this team [with the same horrific offensive line] to the AFC Championship game last year.  In fact, Luck has made the playoffs every year since his rookie campaign.*     

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Broncos Start Season 2-0; Still Searching for Offensive Identity

The Denver Broncos are sitting atop the AFC West at 2-0 and it’s still unclear if anyone is taking them seriously as a playoff contender; let alone a Super Bowl threat.  Their first two games were against a Super Bowl contending team in the Baltimore Ravens and the division rival Kansas City Chiefs.  Unlike most Peyton Manning victories, these games have been won on defense and Manning’s prolific offense has been nowhere to be seen; a troubling sign for any Broncos fan.

Last night, the Broncos beat the Chiefs in Kansas City 31-24 giving Manning his eighth straight victory over the division rivals.  Manning had decent numbers throwing for 256 yards with 3 touchdowns and a pick six while completing 57% of his passes.  However, for the second week in a row, the Broncos offense looked slow and often lost; not something you typically see with Peyton Manning behind center.   Manning had flashes of brilliance but just like last week, he was left to do it all behind a shaky offensive line and a nonexistent running game.

Manning has always been at his best when he’s been the on-field offensive coordinator.  Now with a new coach [Gary Kubiak] and a new offensive scheme, Manning doesn’t have control over the offense as he once did.  I can appreciate that Kubiak was the offensive coordinator back in the late 90’s for the Broncos, and helped Elway win his 2nd Super Bowl ring with the focus on running the football; but that’s clearly not working, at least right now.  Kubiak needs to realize that until the offensive line gets stronger, his slow tempo running back-centric offense isn’t going to be successful.  By limiting Manning’s presence in the offense, especially at the line of scrimmage, all he’s doing is making the offense less of threat and more of a liability.  I know the Broncos defense has started out white hot, but there’s no guarantee that it will stay that way all season.

For the first time in Manning’s career he actually has a great defense, but it’s still uncertain whether he’ll be able to take advantage of it.  There’s no denying that Manning looked great near the end of the game last night and helped his team win the game, but he still looks off.  Manning’s statistics for his first two games [in order] are; 14-21, 124 yards, o TD’s & 1 INT (pick six) / 26-45, 256 yards, 3 TD’s 1 INT (pick six).  Clearly his numbers have significantly improved from week one to week two, however when I watch him play, he just doesn’t look right.  He looks uncomfortable in the pocket and his throws look forced and have barely any velocity to them.  I’m not saying Manning needs to hang it up, but I think the end of the road is right around the corner.

The Denver Broncos are 2-0 to start their season.  It’s a great start but it could be a very bumpy finish if they can’t get their offense in sync.  It’d be a damn shame to see a Manning team struggle on offense especially since he finally has a defense to help him win games, and potentially a championship.

NFL Regular Season + Super Bowl Picks

We’ve finally made it; the NFL season is finally upon us.  Here are my divisional, playoff and Super Bowl picks.

AFC East

1.Patriots

2. Dolphins

3.Bills

4.Jets

The Patriots once again are the kings of the division, although this season could be their last.  The young and much improved Miami Dolphins are on the verge of becoming a real threat not only in the division but in the conference as well.  The Bills will have a top 5 defense but until they develop a better quarterback, they’re nothing more than a.500 team.   And it’s looking like another down year for the Jets who can battle the Washington Redskins for the ‘most dysfunctional franchise’ crown.

AFC North:

1.Ravens

2.Steelers

3.Bengals

4.Browns

The Ravens are my pick to win the division although the Steelers are going to make it close all season long.  The Ravens are coming back with a strong team and haven’t shown anything during the offseason to make me believe that they aren’t the class of this division.  Pittsburgh might have the best offense in the league at seasons end, but I don’t think they have a strong enough defense (at least not yet) to tops in this division.  Cincinnati is going to take a step back this year and miss the playoffs for the first time during the Andy Dalton era.  They’ve been fortunate over the last few seasons to make the playoffs and I think their luck finally runs out.

AFC South:

1.Colts

2.Titans

3.Texans

4.Jaguars

This is arguably the weakest division in the league and has one of the best Quarterbacks in the game on one team; therefore, the Colts are a no-brainer here.  Andrew Luck is going to come out guns blazing this season and has a fighting chance of being an MVP candidate at seasons end.  The Titans are going to surprise some teams this year with a revitalized defense and a fresh start at quarterback with the rookie Marcus Mariota.  The Texans have quarterback issues that they need to work through before we can take them seriously; and the Jaguars are going to continue to be basements dwellers.

 

AFC West:

1.Broncos

2.Chargers

3.Chiefs

4.Raiders

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are once again the best team in this division.  Manning is still an elite quarterback and the Broncos [as a whole] have what it takes to be a top seed in the AFC.  The Chargers and Chiefs are going to battle it out for second place, and I’ll give the edge to San Diego because they have the superior quarterback in Phillip Rivers.  The Raiders are going to be a much improved team than they were last year; however they’re still a few seasons away from being true contenders in this division.

NFC East: **The most interesting division**

1.Eagles

2.Giants

3.Cowboys

4.Redskins

There isn’t a coach who has more to prove this season than Chip Kelly, but don’t fret Eagle fans, this team is going to live up to the offseason hype.  The Eagles have made some intriguing offseason acquisitions with the signing of Demarco Murray (thank you Jerry Jones) along with quarterback, Sam Bradford.   The two of them are going to help put Philadelphia back on the map as an offensive juggernaut.   The New York Giants are due to have another run of success and I think it happens this year.  For the first time since 2011, the team will make the playoffs thanks in large part to their superstar wide receivers; Odell Beckham Jr and Victor Cruz.  The Dallas Cowboys will come back to earth and miss the playoffs this year.  The loss of Murray at running back is going to put more pressure on Romo, which will lead to turmoil for Cowboy nation.

Finally, the Washington Redskins are a dysfunctional mess and a disaster.  The team will be lucky to win more than 5 games this season.

NFC North:

1.Packers

2.Lions

3.Vikings

4.Bears

Much like my AFC South pick, this is a no-brainer.  The best quarterback in the game will lead his team to another division crown.  The Lions (who will win a wild-card spot) will make it close, but they don’t have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.  The Vikings are starting to get better and if Bridgewater can continue to develop at QB, this team could be a real contender next season.

*There’s honestly no reason to bring up the Bears until they find themselves a new quarterback.*

NFC South:

1.Falcons

2.Saints

3.Panthers

4.Buccaneers

The worst division in football last year will at least produce a division winner with an above .500 record.  The Falcons are going to be the team to beat this year [as long as they stay healthy].  They have arguably the best one-two punch at wide receiver [Roddy White & Julio Jones] in the league, not to mention the underrated Matt Ryan at quarterback.  The Saints will rebound slightly after a horrendous season last year while the Panthers and Bucs will fight to stay out of last place.

NFC West:

1.Cardinals

2.Seahawks

3.Rams

4.49ers

No that not’s a typo, I’m picking the Cardinals to win the division.  The Seahawks have lost too many pieces on defense and given all the chatter this offseason it looks as if their locker room is beginning to implode.  The Cardinals are going to play great football for the second year in a row and if they have a healthy Palmer all season long, you could be seeing them in February.

Meanwhile, the Rams are going have another .500 season; while the 49ers will struggle mightily with their losses on defense not to mention their loss at head coach.

AFC Playoff Seeds:

  1. Colts
  2. Broncos
  3. Patriots
  4. Ravens
  5. Steelers
  6. Dolphins

NFC Playoff Seeds:

  1. Packers
  2. Cardinals
  3. Eagles
  4. Falcons
  5. Lions
  6. Giants

Super Bowl Pick:

Indianapolis Colts vs. Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers = Super Bowl Champions

Arguably the two best quarterbacks in the game will faceoff for an offensive showdown for the ages.  Green Bay will win a close game (although I’ll be rooting like hell of the Colts) due to their experience and because they have the best quarterback in the game.

Pittsburgh Steeler Fans vs. Michael Vick

Last week it was reported that Michael Vick had signed a one year deal to become the backup quarterback in Pittsburgh for the Steelers.  It seemed like a smart move for both given Big Ben’s tendency to get injured and that Vick is still skilled enough to be a serviceable backup, not to mention his strong veteran presence in the locker room.  Although it might not seem like a “breaking news” story, several Steeler fans were trying to make it one; and certainly not a positive one at that.

For those who are unaware, Vick was suspended from the NFL in 2007 and served a 21 month jail sentence for an illegal dogfighting ring.  He was reinstated by the league in 2009.

Steeler fans throughout Pittsburgh are outraged that the organization would sign Vick given his troubled past.   Season ticket holders are claiming that they will boycott home games until Vick is released by the team.  Most of the fans that were interviewed admitted to being dog lovers and stated (paraphrasing) that Vick’s philanthropic work and rehabilitated image was nothing more than a PR stunt and it’s impossible for someone who did such cruel things to animals to change.

Now, before I go into a rant, I want to make a few things clear:

1) I’m a dog lover and have been my entire life.

2) What Vick did was reprehensible and he deserved the punishment that he received

3) Vick served his time and has been a model citizen since his reinstatement

Given the way that they’re acting, those Steeler fans who are “outraged” over the signing of Vick are hypocrites.  Maybe they forgot, but their starting quarterback was charged with sexual assault in 2009 and again in 2010.  Not to mention, he was suspended for the first six games in 2010 without pay for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.  So let’s all try and follow along with season ticket holders in Pittsburgh.   If you plead guilty to dog fighting, serve your sentence, and come back rehabilitated you shouldn’t be allowed to play on their team.  However, if you are accused of sexual assault two years in a row for two different cases and are suspended from the league for violating their personal conduct policy, you’re welcome play.

I’ll never forget what Vick did to those dogs but I forgive him.  Who the hell am I to judge him, especially after he served his punishment and has done numerous things to try and make amends for his past transgressions?  Even if his charitable work is a publicity stunt, he’s still paying for his crimes and it’s something that will follow him for the rest of his life.  I can appreciate that there are many  dog lovers who have a hard time with what Vick did, but the man served his time and deserves to be given another chance to prove that he’s a better man.

To all those who can’t find it in their heart to forgive Vick and move on, I’ll end with this; I feel sorry for you.  I hope that you never make a huge mistake that affects those in your life and look to others for forgiveness and there’s none to be given.  That would be truly unfortunate.