Week 15 vs. Houston: What went right…

After my verbal pasting of the Colts last week, I’d have been remiss to not update the Earth with some of their successes against Houston in what was a pretty solid win. It was not spectacular, by any means, and the second half was largely a snoozefest, but Andy Luck and co. did what needed done and put the hapless Texans away early. Here are a few of the main reasons why:

The offensive line actually did what it’s paid to do.

Not a coincidence that the best the offensive line has looked this year matches up directly to Mike McGlynn playing center. McGlynn is not a great offensive lineman by any stretch, but he’s a better center than Samson Satele, and I’m 94% sure of that. It actually is quite interesting when you consider that our strangest o-line of the year performed quite well against an above-average defensive front. Xavier Nixon filled in admirably at right guard, and the entire front held J.J. Watt in check, which is no small feat.

My hope moving forward is that the coaches meeting this week includes a dialogue somewhere along these lines:

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I’ll Fix the Colts if No One Else is Going To

I am so damn sick of Chuck Pagano’s obsession with “sticking to the process.” Guess what, Chuck. The process has failed you. It hasn’t failed you for just a game. It’s not as if a couple quarters went array because of the process. I think it’s safe to say that the last good game this team has played, beginning to end, was against Denver, SEVEN FREAKING WEEKS AGO.

Since that time, this team has been incredibly lucky to play some really bad teams and has gotten it handed to them by teams that were just average or a little better. I know all about the injuries and the offensive line and the injuries. Save it. The coaching staff and administration have rode the next-man-up wave all year, which is fine, until your next man up is Cassius Vaughn, Mario Harvey, Jeff Linkenbach, etc.

It might be too late for this squad to salvage anything but a quick, home playoff loss in the first round, but with a few tweaks, I believe the Colts can give themselves a glimmer of hope to at least push back the Cleveland Browns’ second first-round draft pick by a few. For the record, the Colts didn’t even pay me to do this. I’m just a really good guy.

1. Get Andrew Luck out of the pocket.

With this offensive line, the pocket is a bad, bad place for anyone to be, much less the guy you’re expecting to pilot your offense for the next 15 years. Give me 1000 words to talk about how terrible this offensive line is, and I’ll write 1500, just because I can. But, the coaching staff needs to acknowledge this problem and cater to the ineptitude instead of trusting that at some point, some way, it will all get better.

Give them some help. Move Andrew around. Roll him right. Roll him left. Just do something so he isn’t standing there taking a beating. I’d say Andrew Luck is probably a top-6 or 7 quarterback in the league when it comes to athleticism, and yet he takes a five-step drop, sets up to throw, and gets walloped before he can complete the throwing motion.

The most common band-aid placed over a bad offensive line is the shotgun formation, where a quarterback is already essentially in a three-step drop when he receives the snap. Please recognize that while the Colts run a lot of shotgun, Luck is STILL taking a 3-5 step drop out of the formation. This puts him anywhere from 5-10 yards behind where he should be throwing the ball, which turns that seven-yard out route into a 15-20 yard pass. In addition to giving the opposing secondary more time to break on the ball, the throws are going to be less accurate, and that second and three turns into a second and ten, which quickly turns into a three and out. AND LUCK IS STILL GETTING HIT.

Get him into space laterally, and let him make throws outside the pocket or on the run. It’s better for all of us. Read the rest of this entry

Colts Overreaction: Week 3

Last week’s loss warranted a swift and harsh look into the reality of what I thought the Colts’ 2013 season would be. A loss to the Dolphins had me, just like any reasonable Colts fan, ready to mail it in for the year and hold out for Jadeveon Clowney in the 2014 draft. Well, as it turns out, the Colts aren’t all that bad, which works out well, because Clowney isn’t turning out to be all that good. And it wouldn’t matter anyway, because we no longer hold the rights to a 2014 first-round pick. We hold the rights to Trent Richardson.

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Monday Colts Overreaction: Week 2

Apparently, I still hold rights to this Swensanity URL, likely because I’m the only one clever enough to take an existing name and add “sanity” to the end of it, essentially creating a worldwide phenomenon, and recently, a good friend of mine suggested I allow my thoughts to spew out into the written word. So, despite some really vague language in my company’s employee handbook about posting personal opinions on the Internet, I have decided to do something with it, and it’s your gain.

If you didn’t watch the Colts’ game yesterday, your weekend was significantly better than mine. While it wasn’t nearly as sad as the week one win against Oakland, it wasn’t not sad, if you get what I’m saying. So in true sports fan fashion, I have, admittedly, completely overreacted to the loss to Miami in the form of losing all faith in this team to do anything productive this year, and here’s why:

This offensive line is terrible…and getting worse.

I’m past the point of worrying about the o-line losing us games by giving up big sacks or hurries when the game matters most. That’s happened, and will continue to happen, until a massive overhaul takes place. I’m beginning to seriously worry about the long-term health of the best young quarterback in the NFL and the guy who is supposed to lead this franchise to many, many future wins.
Andrew Luck is a big, tough man. He’s a linebacker in a quarterback’s jersey, and he has bounced back from every big hit he’s endured as a member of this team. But that won’t continue forever. It’s not just the sacks and knockdowns – it’s the blown blocking assignments that result in unimpeded sprints straight to #12. I don’t care how big and tough you are, eventually, you’re not getting up from one of those.
The point is, it’s not just a lack of talent up front. It’s a lack of communication and scheming, and the loss of Donald Thomas only compounds those issues. Yeah, Luck made Dion Jordan look stupid yesterday when he bounced off the rookie’s attempt at a big hit and kept the play alive, but if that’s a veteran stud trying to make his presence felt, Andrew Luck may need to be tended to by medical professionals.
It’s just one play, but it’s an example of my concerns, and Colts Nation’s concerns, about the group up front.

Andrew Luck makes some really boneheaded plays.

No misconception here – I still think very, very highly of Andrew Luck. In terms of the “If I was starting a team today” rankings, I’d take him directly behind Aaron Rodgers. In fact, it’s difficult to include him in the team’s problems, but the reality is that there are still several throws a game that he makes that have no business being made.
The clearest example of this is his interception yesterday, where Reggie Wayne was blanketed by the defense, yet got a ball thrown in his direction anyway. It seems like Luck forgets these are NFL defensive backs he’s up against and thinks he can make any throw. Every game, we see passes that aren’t so great, and I think “Well surely he’ll hit the film room, realize the mistake, and not do it again.” And then he does it again.
Andrew Luck isn’t perfect. No quarterback in this league is. But he has to be careful and recognize that not every small window is an opportunity to rifle one in.

Defense.

Laron Landry has been good. Really, the safeties have been the brightest stars in general on a defense full of mediocre players asked to be stars. But football 101 tells us that a safety shouldn’t lead the team (or league, as of today) in tackles, because that implies there are passes being caught and runners getting into the secondary.
The front seven is the most glaring deficiency on the entire 53-man roster. The pressure yesterday was better, but they’ve got to get more out of the three- and four-man rush. Robert Mathis is getting old. Bjoern Werner is still making 15 rookies mistakes each game. Eric Walden isn’t good.
We have faced two quarterbacks I would place in the bottom-half of the NFL, one of which I would place in the bottom 3/32nds in the league, and yet, Pryor and Tannehill have torn this defense apart. Anyone that can sit in a comfy pocket for six seconds will find a receiver to throw the ball to, and any receiver covered by Greg Toler or Darius Butler for six seconds will surely find enough space for a bottom-half quarterback to get him the ball.
I’m not sold on Greg Manusky, and for all the rage about Chuck Pagano as a defensive coach, you’d think he could get some better play out of the group he has.
Colin Kaepernick will tear our defense a new one next week. I’m not looking forward to it.

If things don’t improve, the Colts could very well be looking at a 2-5 record heading into the bye week, which by all accounts, is not good. The good news is that the three best teams in the NFL are all on the schedule in that time period, so there will be time to recover. The bad news is, the Dolphins and Raiders are not among those three teams, and things haven’t gone real well against either of them.
Things look off to me, which isn’t a real technical diagnosis of problems, but it’s the best way I can explain it. Maybe it’s just a case of a new cast of characters still trying to gel. Maybe there’s a larger problem at hand. Regardless, a very winnable game was lost yesterday afternoon, and winnable games must be won, especially by a team expected to contend right now. In all reality, all hope is not lost just yet, but there are some holes that must be plugged and plugged soon before this canoe fills up with water and sinks slowly to the bottom.

Duke Basketball Wrap-Up

We all saw it. Duke went down, and went down pretty hard, to Louisville yesterday evening in the Elite 8. Things were knotted up at 42 early on in the second half, and then Louisville blew the doors off the rest of the way. As a Duke fan, I did not enjoy myself watching that basketball game. As a basketball fan, it’s safe to say the Louisville is hella good, and I just can’t see them losing. If the tournament lasted ten more games, I still couldn’t see them losing. The Cards are firing on all cylinders right now and isn’t a more complete team in the nation, still playing or otherwise. But, this post isn’t about Louisville, it’s about the Blue Devils and the season at hand. It was a good season, not a great one, and here’s why:

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Players I Love, Don’t Love, and Somewhere in Between

Now that we are done with my incomplete and bias-fueled mock draft, I wanted to give a look at some individual players that I either like, don’t like, or haven’t developed any strong personal feelings toward.

3 Players I love

We start with players I like a lot and think could make a big impact. Two are projected high picks. One somewhere later in the first round. All three project to be quite good.

 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

In case you were unaware, I believe  MKG is the second-best player in this draft. The guy can defend at least three positions, goes non-stop all of the time and was probably the best finisher in transition in college last year. This guy is just a straight athlete that can play basketball. He isn’t a great shooter — or scorer, for that matter — but he’s a strong enough player to develop into something decent throughout his career. In three or four years, the team that lands MKG will be getting 15-18 points, 7-8 rebounds and 4-5 assists per game out of a perennial first-team all-NBA defender. Yeah, I’d take that with my second overall pick.

Bradley Beal

I’ve also made known my love for Beal, and it doesn’t get much better than being compared to Ray Allen and Eric Gordon. He can score in a variety of ways, and, as I said, could be your rookie of the year. I could easily see him putting up 20 points per game his rookie year and adding in three or four assists as well. He was all over the board position-wise at Florida, but settling into a true shooting guard role should provide Beal the opportunity to thrive completely in the NBA.

Royce White

I’d be lying if I said I’ve watched this guy play much at all, but he’s a serious sleeper this year. At a very thick 6-8, he projects as a tweener at the NBA level, but with his athleticism and ball-handling skills, I see no reason why Royce White couldn’t be a starting small forward in the NBA in two or three years. I know there are some red flags, but by all accounts, this a guy that really straightened things out under Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State, and I know I’ll be rooting for him to succeed.

3 players I like

Here’s some guys that I’m not in love with, but guys that I think will ultimately outplay their draft positions.

Fab Melo

This is a guy that has been playing basketball for all of about four years and is still getting assimilated to the American culture, which really explains some of his issues at Syracuse. I’m not making excuses for his absence from the tournament, but he really does seem like a good kid that couldn’t keep things in order when it mattered most. It will probably affect his draft position, but it really shouldn’t. Defensively, we know what he can do, and he has the body to match up down low with most NBA players. Because of that body, I’m not concerned about his transition from the 2-3 zone. He will hold up just fine. His offensive game needs work, that’s for sure, but he’s worked hard on it since he left school and has time to straighten things out. No one will expect Melo to come in and start right away, but any team past about 15 would be wise to pick up Melo and slowly work him into an important role.

Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder doesn’t necessarily have a true position in the NBA, but he’s a crazy hard worker that seems to really enjoy the game. Maybe it’s just the hair, but I see him as Kenneth Faried with a little more range. He might not be as tough rebounding or on the block as Faried, but he will fill up the stat sheet in more ways than one. Come to think of it, Crowder’s Marquette mate, Darius Johnson-Odom, will be a huge steal in the second round also. Like Crowder, he’s a bit undersized for the position he’s best suited for(SG), but goes hard and has a great jumper. This might be a sneaky-good draft to grab a Golden Eagle.

Tony Wroten Jr.

After just one year, Wroten elected to come out, which was probably a mistake. With that said, he has some serious point guard abilities with some serious shooting issues. With his court vision, I think Wroten will turn out to be one of the better passers in the draft, and like so many others, his jumper can come along as his career progresses. Another situation where the right team will make all the difference. He has the size to play the two-guard, but his highest level of production will be at the point.

3 players that make me say…eh…

These are guys that I’m not terribly impressed with, but still think they will be good NBA players.

Anthony Davis

Let me preface this by saying that there is no team in the NBA that wouldn’t love to have this guy, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with picking him number one. He would be my pick, but I’m not crazy in love with him. I worry about his ability to handle bigger players down low, both offensively and defensively. He made a feasting on guards getting into the lane and swatting their futile attempts at the basket, but NBA guards are much smarter and know how to get a shot off. He will rebound the ball and play above-average defense, but his offensive game still needs to come around. Davis will be a good NBA player, but I’m not convinced he will retire as the best this draft class had to offer.

Will Barton

He is climbing a lot of draft boards, but I’m not all-in on Barton. Granted, I don’t think he goes anywhere higher than 20th, and may still slip to the second round, but he’s just so darn skinny. He scored a lot at Memphis, and he certainly knows how to put the ball in the basket. I think he can be a career backup, and a pretty good one, but I’m very lukewarm on Will Barton right now.

Harrison Barnes

Another top pick that just doesn’t quite do it for me. I see him scoring when he wants to, but don’t ever see him as a reliable constant threat that you can keep on the floor in any situation, which is what I think the team that drafts him hopes they are getting. He could go nuts and become a top-10 player in the league. He certainly has that potential, but he also has the potential to be “just okay”.

3 Players I Don’t Like

I don’t like these guys. Not, like as people, just as draft picks.

Evan Fournier

I saw him in his workout with the Pacers, and I just wasn’t that impressed. Fournier is a good scorer, but he is quite young (19) and will have to learn a new style of basketball for a team that will expect him to contribute right away. I’m not saying he will need to start, because he’s going to go in the back end of the first round, but teams like Memphis, Chicago and OKC that pick at the end of the first round will want him to be one of the first guys off the bench, and I just don’t see it. Fournier has the ability to score, but against stronger, physical NBA defenders, will he be able to impose his will as he has been doing in France? It’ll be tough.

John Henson

Henson is another good college shot blocker, but I just think he will get taken to the woodshed down low on an NBA court. He’s just too skinny. That’s really all the rationale I have for Henson, but it’s a big issue that will be detrimental until he puts on a few pounds.

Marquis Teague

Of all the players that could have used another year in college, Teague tops the list. His jumper is below-average, and it was a lot easier to make decisions on a college court surrounded by superstars than it will be in the NBA. He can pass the ball well and sees the court well, but he’s not an iso point guard and will need a few years to really come around. File him away in the “potential” drawer for now. Teague will take some time to develop — time that could have been well-spent on the court at Kentucky.

3 Players I Really Don’t Like

Hate is a strong word, one that I prefer not to use. It sounds like I’m personally attacking someone, when, in reality, these guys all may have very good personalities and would surely beat me 100-0 in a 1-on-1 pickup game. However, these three guys don’t have my vote when it comes to basketball playing. Not at all.

Andre Drummond

History tells us that at least one of that top group of guys will be a bust, and Drummond is the most likely candidate. His body is ready, but his game is not. This is another guy that really could have used another year at school, although there was never really any chance he was coming back. He just didn’t put up the stats that you would like to see out of a top-5 type player and doesn’t appear to be mentally ready to play at the next level. As high as he will be picked, you imagine he will start right away, which probably isn’t the best way to bring him along. Drummond will struggle his rookie year and never really recover, but someone is likely to take a chance on him early.

Draymond Green

Again, nothing personal, because he really seems like a great guy, great teammate, and will be a consummate professional. With that said, where does Draymond Green project as an NBA player? He’s too short to be a power forward, but do you really see him defending the Lebron James and Kevin Durants of the world? I don’t. He has a solid jumper and will leave it all on the court every single game, but sometimes, that just isn’t enough to get the job done. There is a place in the NBA for guys like Green, and he will probably go in the first round, but I don’t see him ever being anything other than a halfway-decent backup.

Austin Rivers

In my last post, I talked about how un-confident I was in saying that I didn’t like Rivers. He could really be a star. But I don’t see it. I just don’t ever see him taking a step back and learning to play without the ball. Granted, he is excellent when he has the ball, but Rivers just isn’t quite good enough to dominate the ball in the NBA like he has his entire basketball career. There’s sentiment that he should play point guard because he is a little small to play shooting guard, but he’s best suited for the two. That’s his best shot. If his year at Duke was any indication, he doesn’t much care for passing the ball, and I don’t think he’s physical enough to get to the rim against NBA bigs. And his defense has always been less-than-stellar. Basically, everything Rivers did in college will be a hell of a lot harder in the NBA, but I don’t see his game changing much. He could easily be a star, but could just as easily float around the NBA trying to find a team that will let him shoot as much as he wants to.

NBA Draft: First Ten Picks and the Pacers

Alright Swensanity fans. It’s been awhile, but I’m back at it for at least the next half hour or so. I know you love the NFL insight that I provided on a regular basis for like two months, and trust me, I will get back to that once things pick up, but I just have all of these thoughts buzzing around in my head regarding the NBA Draft tomorrow night and no one with whom I can share them. Except for you. Lucky!

I would do an entire 1st- round mock draft, but I don’t want to. Instead, I’ve chosen to pretend like I know what will happen in the first ten picks, plus include my favorite team and yours alike for good measure.

1. New Orleans Hornets select Anthony Davis

Typing any sort of description or argument here would only lead to a quicker onset of carpal tunnel, or some other typing-related disorder. Davis is good. I hate Kentucky.

2. Charlotte Bobcats select Thomas Robinson

This is the first mis-hit of what will surely be many in the NBA draft. In my humble opinion, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the second best player in this draft. Bradley Beal is the third best player in the this draft. T-Rob is somewhere in the 4-7 range. But Charlotte likes him, and so they will pick him. He will be good, but not great, in the NBA. He will rack up rebounds, but will not be the alpha-male in the NBA that he was in college. Seems like a great guy with a high motor and a level head on his shoulders, but there are other guys in this draft that will be better than T-Rob.

3. Washington Wizards select Bradley Beal

Surely MKG would have been the pick here before the Wizards picked up Trevor Ariza, but now the only missing piece in Washington’s starting lineup is a 2 guard, and Beal is the best this draft has to offer. I think the Eric Gordon comparisons are spot-on for Beal. He can get to the hoop or not get to the hoop, but he can score better than anyone else in this class. And people love scorers. Don’t be surprised if Beal wins rookie of the year. He should lead all rookies in scoring. And people love scorers.

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NFL Chit Chat

Taylor Wilkerson and I sat down to discuss the upcoming NFL season just a few days ago. Topics range from the draft to Peyton Manning to our 2012 picks to Bountygate, because I’m sure no one is sick of hearing about that.

And oh yeah, what would an NFL piece be without a segment devoted to Tim Tebow? This talk should be very popular with the ladies and gentlemen over in Bristol.

Anyway, enjoy, and let me know what you disagree with, because no one every replies to a post just to say they agree with everything.

 

RG3 the Starter in Washington

Mike Shanahan wasted zero time in speaking his mind on the Redskin’s quarterback situation.

“He’s the starter. Period.”

That was Shanahan on Robert Griffin III, Sunday after the Redskins completed their three-day rookie camp.

Not Shannie’s worst decision in a long line of pretty bad decisions in Washington. With that said, his comments on Griffin even further call into question a decision made by the Redskins’ brass just last weekend. If the ‘Skins knew that Griffin was their guy (which they did), why waste a fourth round draft pick on Kirk Cousins? Why why why why why?

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NFL Draft Questions

Now that the draft is completely concluded and you have had a chance to check out my analysis, I wanted to get some reader feedback. Check out the poll questions below, answer honestly, and if you feel so inclined, don’t be afraid to leave a comment or two about why you answered the way you did.

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