by Kent Sterling
Indianapolis Colts fans were spoiled during the Peyton manning era. Tom Moore was the offensive coordinator, Howard Moore ran the o-line, and John Teerlinck headed the d-line. Clyde Christensen was everywhere.
The staff stayed together for years. Now, the change that is seen almost everywhere else is going to visit itself on the Colts.
Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton is a finalist for the vacant Vanderbilt job, and Christensen is expected to follow friend Jim Caldwell to Detroit. Colts fans should see that as the cost of success, not as an indictment of their culture.
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If either of both take jobs elsewhere, that will give head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson a chance to hire some more very good guys to put their stamp on the franchise.
There should be a hell of a long line of candidates willing to move to Indianapolis to work with Andrew Luck – a young quarterback with the potential to win multiple super bowls, and be regarded as one of the all-time greats.
Running back Donald Brown tweeted the following:
“Was an honor and privilege to play for the Colts. An organization made up of phenomenal people. Will always be indebted to the horseshoe.”
Sounds like a guy who has been told he’s going to be allowed to pursue employment elsewhere, and that is the right decision for the Colts. In a league that is filled with fifth rounders who can run and block (Colts Vick Ballard, Rams Zac Stacy, and more), why invest the $2-million it will need to sign Brown when another running back can do the job at $500K?
Just like Michael tells Sonny in The Godfather, “It’s not personal.” Brown was a key to the success the Colts enjoyed in 2013, but looked like a candidate for a late camp cut in August. Nothing changed but the health of those ahead of him. The Colts are going to need cash to sign other free agents, and Brown’s money can be spent better elsewhere.
Antoine Bethea, 30 in July, is a sure tackling safety who has played well for the Colts since 2006. He’s a solid inside the box run stopper, and one of the last links to the Super Bowl XLI champs – along with Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne, and Adam Vinatieri. Hate to let champions go, but the Colts are already paying a lot of cash to a soon-to-be 30, solid inside-the-box run-stopping safety. LaRon Landry is under contract for another three years.
The Colts need a cover safety, and waiving Landry would leave a dead money mark of $5,250,000 while Bethea rolls without penalty.
Bethea addressed his future Monday, “I had a great time here, great eight years, two Super Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl ring. Most definitely grew up as a player and grew up as a man here in Indianapolis. The community welcomed me with open arms. I want to stay, but we will see.”
Using a word like “had” makes Bethea sound like a guy on his way somewhere else.
The rest of the guys with question marks absolutely need to be brought back. Vontae Davis is a must for a Colts team already thin at cornerback. They need more quality corners, not less. When asked about his future, Davis told the media, “I expect to be in Indy. It’s a great organization. I love playing for this organization.”
Sounds like a guy who has been told that he’s coming back.
Punter Pat McAfee and Vinatieri are musts as well. They are among the best at what the do, and allowing either to leave will almost assuredly mean he will be replaced with a lesser option.
The 2014 Colts won’t look exactly like the 2013 Colts, but that’s not all bad. For everyone who walks out the door, someone else is going to enter. That churn brings opportunity for improvement, and for a team that came within one win of a first round bye, that opportunity might put them over the top.
If the league is full of successful 5th round running backs, why did we give up a first round pick for Trent Richardson? In Cleveland, Richardson ran behind an offensive line that had two pro-bowlers last year….and he still couldn’t average four yards a carry. In Indianapolis, where the line is below average at best, I believe there is not much upside to Richardson’s production.
That’s a pretty good question. The Colts were motivated buyers, and felt the upside of the former #3 pick at a reasonable cost level was worth a selection in the mid-20s, and he still might be. The difficulty is in finding that 5th rounder when two running backs go down in September because no one is letting one go. Did the Colts get fleeced? No. Even if Richardson doesn’t improve, he was still a necessary component to the Colts attack – even if only as a blocking back. The Colts don’t go 11-5 without Richardson.