Truth Telling and The Eternal Optimist

I hate the offseason.

I always have. Draft coverage wears me out. I dislike free agency, and I tire of the endless blather. This offseason has been especially bleak as the face and identity of the Colts has changed. It’s lead to a schism of sorts in the Colts community. There’s a large part of the fan base that’s in mourning over what’s lost. There’s another part that seems fired and up happy about all the changes. I confess, it’s not something I fully understand, and not a discussion I am interested in having at the moment.

Like it or not, the Colts are being remade into the image of the Baltimore Ravens. This is something that appeals to many fans. The Ravens play a specific kind of ‘macho’ football that resonates with fans reared on traditional pigskin values. They have been reasonably successful, making the playoffs 5 of the last 6 years, and posting double digit wins in four of those seasons.

Since 2006, the Ravens have won five playoff games. Since 2001, they’ve won six. So for all the talk about a certain kind of football that ‘wins in the playoffs’, there hasn’t been any evidence that the Ravens play that kind football, assuming it exists at all (hint: IT DOESN’T). The Ravens have been a good franchise in the top six of the NFL for a decade now. There are certainly worse franchises to emulate than Baltimore.

Forgive me, however, if I don’t get excited about building the monster.

The Ravens have been marked by an inability to develop a quarterback, over-conservative coaching, blown 4th-quarter leads in the playoffs, and wasting the primes of a raft of talented defenders like Ed Reed.

In other words, they’ve been Indy-lite for the better part of the 2000s. I don’t see why anyone would be excited about the Colts morphing into a lesser-crappier mirror-image of what they’ve been. It’s not the like the Colts didn’t own the Ravens for a decade or anything, consistently pounding them into the turf in every meeting. Now instead of being lead by offense, Indy’ll be lead by defense. Defense is more variable from year to year, so I can’t see how that makes anything better.

This is where I find myself at a crossroads. Every time I say anything remotely critical or questioning of the new regime and their thought process, the contingent of fans that is happy with the new direction jumps down my throat for being unfair. Understand this, please: I am rooting for the Colts to win and win big. I pay for season tickets. That should tell you all you need to know about my loyalties and my interests in seeing this franchise succeed.

For a long time there was a myth about me. People thought of me as ‘the positive’ Colts blogger. I’m not, and I never was. I’m the guy who tells the truth. I spent five years defending and explaining the Colts because I honestly believe in the philosophy the team was built with. I believe in passing offense first. I hate free agency. I advocated sitting players in 2009, because I believe that was the right thing to do. I didn’t defend Bill Polian and his ways for any reason other than I completely agreed with them. When I didn’t (like the 2011 draft), I said so. I’m not the eternal optimist. I’m the guy who always tells the truth. I don’t have any agenda. I don’t care about being right or wrong. I’m just calling it as I see it. Some fans will find it easier to rail at me than to honestly address my concerns.

I feel it’s important to bring these things up now, because my greatest fear for the Colts is this: four years of mediocrity and stories about how bad the franchise was when Grigson and Pagano took over. Everyone hated Bill Polian so much that the media will happily use him as a scape-goat for all future problems of the Colts long past when it’s appropriate. If the Colts don’t have a competitive team in 2013, it won’t be Bill Polian’s fault. It will be Pagano and Grigson’s fault. If Andrew Luck doesn’t develop correctly, it won’t be Bill Polian’s fault. It will be Pagano and Grigson’s fault.

I don’t care HOW the Colts win. I just want them to win. However, in my experince and research there is a path to victory in the NFL that is more sure, more reliable than others. The Colts aren’t choosing that path.

They want to be like Baltimore.

I can’t figure out why.