Andrew Luck surgery
All year long, the Colts said they were holding Andrew Luck out of one practice per week as a precaution, as "maintenance." Owner Jim Irsay even made a point to say that he wouldn’t need surgery, which clearly wasn’t true.
Now, it turns out, he needed fairly involved shoulder surgery, which reportedly will keep him out six months.
This could be good news if it means Luck will no longer need to miss one practice every week, and can throw without pain next year and the years thereafter. It would also go a long way toward explaining his terrible 2015 performance, and maybe give some insight into why he was only good, but not great, in 2016. Maybe, if fully healthy, he’s still capable of becoming a truly elite quarterback, which looked like his destiny after that 2014 season.
This could be bad news, though, because anything that involves the labrum can result in a lasting problem, one that won’t necessarily be resolved by surgery.
The larger point here is, the Colts must do a far better job of protecting Luck, something they started to do the second half of the season. It’s going to be a tough call for Ryan Grigson (or whoever ends up being the general manager next season): Do you stand pat with the current offensive-line group in the hope that the second half of the season showed this is an up-and-coming group? Or do you attempt to continue to upgrade, still unsure whether this is the right combination moving forward?
Clearly, the Colts must focus on defense (followed by defense and then more defense) and a young running back, but it wouldn’t hurt to bolster the offensive line at some point in free agency or the draft.
If I’m Grigson and especially Chuck Pagano, I’m angry. And perplexed. And humiliated. And fighting the temptation to resign, even though it makes a lot more financial sense to sit tight and swallow hard.
While I’m under contract, my team’s owner has spent the last couple of weeks looking for people to replace me, reaching out to Jon Gruden and reaching out to Peyton Manning. Gruden, of course, said no thanks and the last we checked on Manning, that was looking highly unlikely, at best. Meanwhile, Grigson and Pagano, who deserve to be treated better than this, keep their heads down and continue working to improve the Indianapolis Colts.
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Look, there’s nothing wrong with Irsay attempting to go out and upgrade his front office. That’s what most fans want, right?
What’s wrong is that he’s done it while Grigson and Pagano are still employed. It would be like finding out that while I’m under contract, WTHR is playing footsie with another columnist who would replace me.
If you’re going to search for replacements, you fire Grigson and/or Pagano before you start testing the waters. If you don’t think they’re good enough to get you to the Super Bowl, then you don’t keep them and you look elsewhere. Simple as that.
Seriously, if you’re a prospective general manager or head coach and you’ve seen the deplorable way that Irsay has treated Grigson and Pagano, why would you come here to work for Irsay? How do you know the same reprehensible thing won’t happen to you?
At this point, Irsay cannot put the toothpaste back into the tube. Now that we all know about his dalliances with Gruden and Manning, Irsay has, in effect, repudiated Grigson and Pagano. He’s given them a vote of no confidence. He’s told the fans, the players, everybody that he doesn’t fully believe he can win a Super Bowl with this pair, that as soon as he can find an upgrade – this year or the year after – he’s going to pull the plug. Grigson and Pagano are lame ducks now, even though both have significant time left on their contracts.
I have no doubt Grigson and Pagano will be unfailingly professional about all of this madness and will continue to work toward, ahem, building the monster. (What happens if the Colts have a great season next year? Then what?) They will handle this far better than their team owner has handled this. But if you don’t think this is a complete and utter mess, you’re just not paying close enough attention.
Indy Eleven's future
Through absolutely no fault of their own, I get the sinking feeling the Indy Eleven will end up being another cautionary note in Indy’s star-crossed soccer history. The franchise has done almost everything right during its three years of existence, and the crowds who routinely fill Carroll Stadium have been phenomenal. But with so many questions surrounding the health of the league they play in, you wonder what the long-term future really looks like. Again, not the Eleven’s fault, not in the slightest. If nothing else, Indianapolis has shown it has the support to be a Major League Soccer city, but I don’t see that happening in the short term.
Throwing it Away
I admit it: I’m rooting against the Philadelphia 76ers, and not because I’m a cold-hearted lout who is incapable of human emotions. No, I’m rooting against them because if they continue to turn things around, they are going to give other going-nowhere franchises the idea that wholesale tanking and fielding an NBDL team for three years is an acceptable way to rebuild. There is never – seriously, NEVER – a rationale for purposely throwing away three seasons and making a mockery of the NBA with historically and intentionally bad basketball.
All of that said, it’s hard not to feel a little bit good for their coach, Brett Brown, players like Joel Embiid and fans who stuck with the team through “The Process.’’ But on a more general level, I hate what they did and how they did it.
Pro Football Focus rated all the NFL linebackers this season; the No. 1 rated guy? Former Colt Jerrell Freeman, who rated higher than Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner.
Freeman wanted to return to Indianapolis when he became a free agent last year, but he turned down the Colts’ offer, got a slightly better offer from the Bears, walked back to the Colts with the offer and they told him to have a nice life. In the meantime, the Colts went through three linebackers at Freeman’s old spot – Sio Moore, Nate Irving and Edwin Jackson – none of whom came close to playing at Freeman’s level.
Now, I’ve heard that Freeman spent a lot of his last season in Indy moping about his finances, upset the Colts didn’t take care of him earlier in his contract, but I know this: The man can play (that is, when he’s not being suspended for PED use).
It seems to me that when seven of the 10 players you’ve drafted from 2012 to 2015 are no longer on the roster, you should bend over backwards to keep the players who have performed at a high level.