The Indianapolis Colts are getting ridiculous.
Every wiseguy in Las Vegas liked the Colts’ season wins UNDER this year. Seemingly every season, there is a team that jumps up from the bottom of the standings to make the playoffs. Seemingly that very same team regresses toward the mean in the following season as well.
The Colts looked like a classic rendition of a team that would do exactly that. They had gone from a 2-14 mark in 2011 to an 11-5 record last season.
To cap off the likelihood, the Colts were outscored last season, 357-387. In theory, by posting such a negative scoring differential they should only have had only seven wins. Teams that out perform their scoring differential like that also tend to even out the following season.
Since the Colts also finished second in their division last season, they would now be playing a second place schedule this season rather than the fourth place schedule they had going into 2012.
For stat guys, every indicator pointed to the Colts taking that step back. Undoubtedly Colts general manager Ryan Grigson heard the same theories. Grigson was extremely active dealing with other teams and signing free agents in the off-season.
Meanwhile, every pundit I was listening to disparaged Grigson’s moves. Once one media guru starts in on someone’s stupidity or incompetence, the rest chime in hoping not to miss the boat on knocking someone.
They said he was trying too hard to keep the team on their ascent. The smart thing would be to settle in for a year with a talented but thin squad and take their lumps. In the following years they would be real contenders.
What I heard about Grigson was he was smart, talented and had a bundle of self-confidence. Good for Grigson for not listening to any of these experts.
Chuck Pagano was back as head coach after missing a big chunk of last season while fighting leukemia. Bruce Arians, the former offensive coordinator, did such a good job as Pagano’s replacement he got his own head coaching gig this season. New offensive coordinators can disrupt a team’s rise.
The Colts brought in young Pep Hamilton, who had served as Stanford’s offensive coordinator during Andrew Luck’s final season. He and Luck had an obvious rapport in college and it has translated to the pros. I’ve watched the Colts games this year and as a play-caller Hamilton has an offensive mind every coach in the league should emulate.
Some coaches can put together plays that will often gain a lot of yardage. That’s nice, but the idea is to win games, not just gain a bunch of yards. Hamilton actually has a plan. He knows how to win with his offensive strategy. Against the 49ers, the Colts were big underdogs, but holding on to a lead. Hamilton called for running plays to hammer into the 49ers line, grinding the clock before scoring and wrapping up the win.
Sunday against the Seahawks, the Colts were behind most of the game and losing the time of possession battle. The Colts ran when they could, but passed their way to a comeback victory over a team some consider the NFC’s best.
Of course Andrew Luck is the linchpin in the whole operation. While the league is boasting one of its best young quarterback groups in its history, Luck stands above them all. It’s still quite early in the quarterback’s career, but he has the signs of being one of the best.
Writer Scott Kacsmar, has done some great work in evaluating quarterbacks. He had a hunch about Luck and has been making him his pet project. Scott has statistical evidence of Luck’s superior efficiency in two key areas that will make a quarterback into a winner, third-down conversions and fourth quarter comebacks.
Luck stands above all others at this same age. Check out some of Scott’s terrific work in Bleacher Report, Cold Hard Football Facts and Football Outsiders.
Before the season, I too, was one of those who expected mediocrity from the Colts this year. When we were discussing the Colts, my comment was that if Andrew Luck were good enough to take this team to another playoff berth, I would give him a 10 % chance of eventually being considered the greatest quarterback of all time.
Well, the playoffs are clearly in sight for the Colts. We’ve got a long way to go in Luck’s career, but if he continues on this trajectory, tell Joe Montana, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to move over. Someone else is about to enter the discussion.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].