Each week on aerochug.com, Indy Football Report Editor John Oehser offers seven thoughts on all things surrounding the Indianapolis Colts. Without further delay, the Magnificent Seven for the first week of the 2010 offseason . . .
7. Unbelievably, an issue of predictability. The Indianapolis Colts, in the span of a few days – a few seconds, actually – have gone from one of the most-efficient, productive offenses in NFL history to a predictable offense in dire need of a change. That’s the perception, anyway. Such is the state of the NFL in the instant-reaction, blogosphere, post-your-comment-here era. Remember? Way back when? When the Colts’ offense was a juggernaut, to be judged against only the best units in NFL history? That way back when was last week, before the Colts’ 31-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV – and really, before Colts QB Peyton Manning threw an interception that New Orleans Saints CB Terry Porter returned 74 yards for what essentially was a game-clinching, perception-altering, fourth-quarter touchdown. Porter afterward said he noticed Colts WR Austin Collie lined up outside and WR Reggie Wayne lined up inside, jumped the route and made the interception. He later correctly said, “It was a great read by me.” Since the game, there have been those interpreting Porter’s play as a sign that the Colts have become predictable on offense and that tweaks must be made. There are hair-trigger reactions and then there’s ridiculous. QB Peyton Manning has been the NFL’s Most Valuable Player two consecutive seasons and the Colts won their first 14 games of the season and two post-season games – every game that mattered until the Super Bowl – and against the Saints they had 432 yards offense. Porter made a good read, and without question, Manning and the Colts would love to have the play back. They also without question will review the offense for predictability and tendencies, as they do every year. But to think that teams have caught up with the offense and are routinely anticipating what they’re doing is a bit extreme.
6. Equally unbelievable. Unsurprisingly, the perception of the Colts’ offense isn’t the only thing that changed drastically late Sunday night. Remember way back when? When Manning was on the verge of being the greatest quarterback ever? That was a week ago, too. The hottest debate in Miami last week was Manning’s place in history, his legacy. It was the kind of story that makes Super Bowls so memorable and dramatic and in a sense, what makes them take on a somewhat surreal tone. By the time the Super Bowl kicked off, it got to the point that whatever happened in the game, the story afterward for many was going to be Manning was the best quarterback ever if the Colts won and the most overrated quarterback ever if they lost. Because of that, the interception Porter returned for a touchdown for some this week has ridiculously become the defining moment of his career. Part of his career? Sure. A memorable play? Sure. But a summation? Hardly. The guy has won four NFL MVP Award and a Super Bowl and has played in two Super Bowls, 10 postseasons, three AFC Championship Games and won seven division titles. One play, no matter how big, or how memorable, doesn’t define his career. Let’s hope as time goes on, and the memory of Sunday fades, that perception fades just a bit, too.
5. A key re-signing. With the offseason now upon us, the attention turns to the Colts’ free agents. Colts President Bill Polian said that unless the NFL and the NFL Players Association reach a labor agreement before the start of free agency March 5, MLB Gary Brackett will be the only “so-called name player” to become an unrestricted free agent. If labor agreement is not reached, and Polian – and pretty much everyone else around the NFL says it’s unlikely – the league will enter an uncapped year in March and several players originally scheduled to become unrestricted free agents – CB Marlin Jackson and S Antoine among them – will instead by restricted free agents. Under that scenario, the team will have to decide at what level to tender the players, at which time other teams can offer than contracts with the tendering teams receiving compensation based on the tender offers if a player signs elsewhere. Polian said because of that, free agency will be a bit more of a reactionary feel because of teams deciding how to approach restricted free agents from other teams, then how to respond when one of their players is offered a contract. Speaking specifically of Brackett, Polian said he spoke to him following Sunday’s Super Bowl and said the Colts would do eveything within “all reasonable bounds” to re-sign him. Polian said there was a possibility Brackett’s negotiations could be an extended process, as was the case with four-time Pro Bowl C Jeff Saturday last offseason. The Brackett situation is in fact, fairly similar to that of Saturday last off-season, with each probably fitting better with the Colts than anywhere else. If Brackett can get significantly more money elsewhere, he should leave, but if it’s close, he should stay with the Colts. He fits and the Colts knows his strengths and weaknesses. He likely would play to the end of whatever contract he signs with Indy. That’s often better for the team and for the player’s career longevity. The guess here is Brackett will get done. The players don’t sign too many players’ Brackett’s age to long-term deals, but his value to the defense – as is the case with Saturday offensively – extends into the huddle and into the locker room.
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