As I sit here at Lucas Oil Stadium preparing to watch the Indianapolis Colts minicamp, I felt it was time to give my thoughts on their offseason moves. This a two part series. I’ll start with free agency first because it came before the draft.
Ryan Grigson signed about billion free agents. At least it felt like it. I think the last count was 13. I don’t think we had 13 free agents signed the entire 13 years that Peyton played here. It was weird. Many thought that the Colts should bring in a couple of the top free agents. Grigson decided that with all the holes in the roster that a ‘scorched earth’ policy would be best. in other words, throw numbers at the problem. I happen to agree. If the Colts had used up all their cash on a couple of guys, there’d still be a ton of holes on the team. As it is, we may have a few week spots, but as a whole, this team is much better. Another complaint folks had was that Grigson over-paid for everyone. No one ever said however exactly what the free agents should have been paid, that negates their wining. Now for a few thoughts on each signing:
Gooder Cherilus (RT): Pro Football Focus (PFF) had Cherilus listed as the second best RT in football. Considering that no franchise can get anywhere without a stud QB, it’s imperative to protect him. Therefore it is damn near impossible to overpay for good protection. The complaint I’ve heard is that he was penalized a lot in Detroit. The Lions are a very undisciplined team. It’s hard to maintain your own discipline when no one else has any. Also, people seem to forget that Tarik Glenn got nailed for a false start pretty much in every game he played. Gosder will be fine.
Daniel Thomas (LG): Must.. Protect.. Andrew Luck. I was ecstatic when Grigson went so hard after offensive linemen. If these guys can build a wall in front of Luck, our young QB can be what he was in college. Thomas wasn’t a regular starter, but performed well when given the chance.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR): My first thought was “meh”. We had dumped one fast receiver with bad hands for another. However, DHB, as he is called, drops the ball less than Donnie Avery does. That’s an upgrade in my book. Plus DHB is taller at 6′ 2″, making him a good Redstone target.
Ahmad Bradshaw (RB): Our latest addition to the team. Runningback wasn’t a need in my book entering the offseason, so this signing is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. When healthy, Bradshaw is one of the better backs in the league. Health is the caveat. My first impression was that at worst, he would a perfect third down back due to his ability to catch and block. Best case, he’s a starter who rotates with Vick Ballard. Maybe Bradshaw can teach our backs how to block as well.
Stanley Havili (FB): Yeah I know he came to us in a trade. So what he’s new. New offensive coordinater, Pep Hamilton, wants to run the ball. He likes to use fullbacks to do that. Stan can also catch the ball and run it. The Colts can never have too many blockers or receivers.
Dan Moore (FB): See Stanley Havili.
Matt Hasslebeck (QB): Hell yeah! Finally, a good backup QB. Hasslebeck is a man that can come in and hold the line if Luck goes down for a week or two. He can hopefully impart some wisdom in Luck and Chandler Harnish as well.
Aubrey Franklin (NT): Finally, a fatguy in the middle. We haven’t had a lane clogger like this since… that one guy. It’s been so long, I can’t remember his name.
Ricky Jean-Francois (DL): I list Jean-Francois as DL because he can play multiple positions along the line. I expect him to star at DE and move to the nose on passing downs. Once again people were wining about size of the contract because he hasn’t proven he can start yet. The difference between him and a draft pick is…? At least Jean-Frank has performed in the league.
Eric Walden (OLB): Umm…. hm. I don’t quite get the contract on this one. 4 mil a year seems like a lot for someone who can only stop the run, but I guess when your team routinely gets run on, you go full force to change that. Who knows, maybe Walden can surprise the way Tim Jennings has in Chicago. Tim couldn’t cover a dead man when he was here, but now look at him. If Walden earns his contract, Grigson should get another executive of the year award. That’s how much this signing has been panned across the internet.
Kelvin Sheppard (ILB): I hear he can cover. If he can take out the opposing team’s TE, I’ll be ecstatic. The Colts have always had trouble with that. A RB coming out of the backfield, too.
Lawrence Sidbury (OLB): Supposedly, Larry has some pass rushing skills and just never got his chance to prove it. He’s never been an LB through.
Josh McNary (OLB): Another pass rusher. I’ve seen a few of his college highlights. Not too shabby. Can’t wait to see him on the field.
(Am I done yet?)
Greg Toler (CB): Ryan Grigson will not quit with trying to get a solid secondary. Thank God. Toler is a little injury prone, but hopefully not to the extent of the man he replaces, Jerraud Powers. Toler was in the top five in the league in keeping the opposing QB rating down. Oddly enough, Darius Butler was also in the top five. Toler has made a good impression in OTA’s. Hopefully he can carry that over into the regular season.
LaRon Landrey (SS): Landrey has a rep for being injury prone, but last year played in every game. He brings hard hitting and an ability to stop the run with him. Pass defending isn’t his strong suit, but that’s why we have Antoine Bethea. I want Landrey to be Bob Sanders ish and let the rest fall where it may.
Did I miss anyone. Geese I hope not. There may not have been the big splashes everyone was looking for in free agency, but most holes have been filled and the roster is upgraded. If even half of these guys pan out, it’s a massive win for the Colts. Better still, if you look at the way the contracts are structured, the Colts can get out of them in a year with little penalty. Given the uncertain nature of free agency, expecting anything more is intellectually dishonest.