Colts Offseason: ESPN Hands Down Grades


The Indianapolis Colts have had a very busy offseason. They spent freely in free agency, signing a number of talented veterans, and came away from the draft with a few potential playmakers. Based on the talent the team came away with in free agency, they’d have one of the best rosters in 2010.

The Colts first round pick in the 2015 Draft left a lot of analysts and fans scratching their heads. It isn’t that Phillip Dorsett isn’t a good player, just that wide receiver was pretty low on the team’s list of needs. The rest of the draft was very defense heavy and the Colts

ESPN handed down their grades for each team’s offseason so far (Insider required). ESPN writer Mike Sando enlisted the help of Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Matt Williamson and Field Yates to put them all together. The team gave the Colts a C-plus overall, and they were tied for 24th in the NFL.

Here’s what the ESPN guru’s had to say:

"Analysis: The Colts will be a fascinating case study this season as a team that broke the usual rules governing long-term roster development by loading up on highly accomplished veterans nearing the ends of their careers. It’s not a great way to go … unless it works. And it could in this case.“This is a total boom-or-bust offseason,” Riddick said. “Ryan Grigson’s contract as GM is coming up soon. Chuck Pagano has to hang out there. They have a bunch of 30-plus players who they hope can give them one more good season to make a run at it. I do not understand the selection of Phillip Dorsett in the first round. They need to fortify their offensive line to protect Andrew Luck.”"

The Colts are clearly all in for this season, but they haven’t crippled the team heading into the future. The contracts for Andre Johnson and Frank Gore are short term and both can be cut at a minimal loss after this season. The Colts didn’t need long term players, they needed veteran leadership.

As for the offensive line, Luck can protect himself by getting rid of the ball faster and the line will be better if everyone can stay healthy this season. Sacks are much more a product of how long the QB holds onto the ball. Having a competent rushing attack will help too.

Sando’s analysis continued:

"Williamson worked under Butch Davis and with Pagano in Cleveland years ago, so he was very attuned to the University of Miami theme tying together some of the Colts’ offseason additions.“Those Miami guys are different,” Williamson said. “They are installing the mentality to be the most competitive group around. You have Luck in place and now you inject some ‘U’ into that team in a weak division and it can go a long way. You lose Reggie Wayne but add Gore and Johnson, then use a first-rounder on a receiver from the U. You can criticize that pick, and I would not have made it, but no defensive coordinator they play against is going to like it.”"

The Colts should be able to score at will this season. There isn’t a player on the offensive roster that they will be force feeding this season (talking about you, Trent Richardson) and they’ll have every kind of matchup problem you can imagine.

"Yates wasn’t buying the idea that Dorsett was drafted as insurance for T.Y. Hilton possibly leaving in the future. Hilton should be a player the team locks up long term, he thought.“You do not make insurance policies for Hilton when he is your second-best or third-best player,” Yates said. “That pick just baffles me. They already gave boatloads of cash to some veterans who aren’t even on the team at this point. This feels a little bit like adding Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the Lakers.”That 2004 Lakers team did reach the NBA Finals, at least.“The history of these types of moves in the NFL is that guys have one great year and then it’s over,” Polian said. “If they all do have one more great year, then the Colts will be right back in the thick of things. This is a win-now approach, which is fine because once they pay Luck, the equation will change. The question is just whether those veteran additions have enough left in the tank.”"

The NFL is a win now league, and anyone talking about a multi-year rebuild is fooling themselves. The Colts proved that it only takes one rough season to get back into contention with the right players.

Once Luck is under contract, the future will be set. They’ll be a favorite just by way of having an elite QB. In another year, signing veteran players won’t be an option and the Colts will have to start building through the draft again.

The grade seems a little harsh and it is clear that these analysts are looking more long term rather than 2015. For this year, the moves are great and will hopefully be enough to get them over the hump.