The True Offseason

It has become en vogue in recent years to talk about how the NFL has no true offseason.  It’s almost true.  From the end of the Super Bowl to the beginning of March, teams are frantically trying to sign players whose contracts are up.  From March to April it’s free agency and draft prep.  Then the draft hits in mid-April and until June, teams are frantically trying to cram as much info into the heads of rookies and free agents right up until the end of OTAs.

However, if there is one true black hole in the NFL calendar year, we’ve now reached it.  The 5-6 weeks from the end of OTAs until the start of training camp August first, are the true offseason in the NFL.  As fans, our desire for NFL news and info may be insatiable, but during this brief period it is impossible to get any good news.  Everyone is on vacation.  Even the Bill Polians of the world take time off.  The players leave town.  No one wants to talk to the press.  Heck, most of the NFL press is on vacation too.

During this ‘offseason’ the only news you can get is bad.  Just ask the Titans. Any momentum that was building to include Tennessee as a potential playoff team or upset pick to win the South went out the window yesterday.  As everyone debates once again whether Vince Young has the mental toughness to handle life in the pressure cooker of the NFL, the rest of us keep our fingers crossed and pray no one in a horseshoe helmet winds up on the blotter.

Since we’ve finally reached the offseason, now is a good time to take stock of where the Colts stand.  Indy has no major issues right now.  By the time camp rolls around, everyone (and I mean everyone) will be 100%.  Maybe Mathis or Wayne hold out, but no one considers that likely.  The Colts are so deep that most of their issues involve who will play back up wideout or fourth corner.  There are still some line issues to sort out, but last year showed how far they can go without an excellent O line.  No one is seriously worried about Peyton’s contract.  The team and the player are committed to getting something done, so while the media likes to talk about it, it doesn’t qualify as a worry.

Indy’s competition in the South doesn’t seem to have improved.  The Texans are potent but have big time concerns in their secondary.  Good luck with Manning and in company in week one, guys!  The Titans’ questions at quarterback as big as every.  As for the Jaguars?  They are just trying to figure out how to survive.  They may sell out the Tebow game, but it’ll be a long year of blackouts for them.  Nothing that has happened to this point indicates that any of these teams are ready to take the division away from the Colts.

The other powers in the AFC all have issues as well.  The Steelers are going with Leftwich for four games (yikes).  The Pats had a big draft, but have issues all over the field, there are rumors Brady is unhappy, and most importantly they now play in a tough division (for once).  The Dolphins and Jets both look to be better, although frankly I’m loath to trust the likes of Henne and Sanchez to topple New England.  Still, a competitive division means that the winner of the AFC East is unlikely to get home field throughout.

There are other old, emphasis on old, stalwarts.  The Chargers have suffered a serious talent train over the past few years, but no one seems to have noticed.  Their division is so weak (as Josh McDaniels continues to ruin the Broncos), that they can skate by on fumes.  However, many of their best defensive players (the ones who allegedly gave Manning fits) are gone.  They aren’t the same team they used to be.  They still have a potent passing game, but they no longer look like a good defensive team.  They remind me of the 2003/2004 Colts a bit.

Then there’s the Ravens.  They’ll be a sexy pick to click this year because of the addition of Anquan Boldin.  Frankly, I don’t see that he helps them that much.  He’s a glorified possession receiver at this point, and is not the kind of dynamic play-maker likely to add a dimension to their offense.

No, headed into the true NFL offseason, the Colts are in as good a position as possible.  They are healthy.  They are deep.  I don’t see that any of the other major players in the conference have improved much.

As fans, it’s finally time to sit, back take a deep breath, enjoy some baseball or soccer and recharge the batteries.  In a few weeks, we’ll start to get the rookies signed and things will ramp up fast.  For now, let’s all just pray for a quiet month.  For a team like the Colts, no news is good news.

There’s a long way to go to the kickoff for week one, but the Colts have to like where they stand right now.

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