A Look Back at the First Week of the Colts Off-Pre-Post-CBA-Season

So, Mr. Mock, or Brett, as you guys may know him, has informed me that if I do not start writing again that he is no longer going to validate my parking (big whoop, dude, it is 2011, I BIKE, GO GREEN) and take away my twitter account (woah, wait, baby, we can work it out, talk to me.  TALK TO ME).  In lieu of SHATTERING MY LIFE, I’ve decided to write.  Brett’s afforded me a “blog” where I can give you my blurbs, mostly on the Colts, but occasionally on other things (like capris pants.  Seriously, they are 2/3rd of a real pair of pants, but you pay twice as much, wtf ladies?)

So here is the first entry in the Brain Spazms blog, where we talk about Manning, Sims, Anderson, Harris and the media.  I would like to talk about Ryan Diem, but my mother always said, “If you ignore someone long enough, they will eventually go away.”  You had better be right, mom.

- The Peyton Manning signing:  Like every other Colts fan out there, I was anxious to see a deal get done.  That it gone done before camp, and at a number that helped the Colts not only keep their own free agents, but afforded them the opportunity to splurge on a few “lottery ticket” free agents is just icing on the cake.  I’ve “enjoyed” the vitriol from some of the “mainstream media” (MSM from now on, in this here blog) such as Peter King, Ross Tucker, and Mike Florio.

Tucker told Colts fans they should be mad at Peyton before his deal got done.  Then, once the deal was done, he immediately proclaimed that he wasn’t believing reports that Peyton would take less money to help the team.  No word came from him once the numbers were public.  Like many in the public eye, he lacks any accountability, and when something doesn’t stick to the wall, he just looks for something else to throw.

King acted surprised and seemed to imply that Manning was demanding the entire cap prior to signing the deal.  When Irsay tweeted the numbers, King then went back on the implication train and declared that Manning would force a re-work of his deal in three years.  When Jim Irsay took a time out from song lyrics to debunk this on twitter, King ignored it, but continued the assertion in his Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB in the future).

Finally, everyone’s favourite lawyer-turned-rumour-monger-turned-”legitimate-football-information-site-runner-guy”, Mike Florio, of profootballtalk.com (PFT) ran multiple articles implying that Peyton was greedy.  Laying out in one that Manning declared his intention to collect the entirety of his new contract.  Like many of you, I was sitting there asking my monitor, “wait, there are players who sign their contracts in the hope of not collecting all the money?”

Manning was praised for the size of his contract for almost two hours after the signing was announced.  The glow faded quickly, though, and the usual suspects started the hit parade.  A lot of the criticism seems to stem from lazy fact checking.  Jim Irsay tweeted that Manning would earn $69MM U.S. in the first three years of the contract.  Most people took that to mean that Manning’s average cap hit over the first three years would be approximately $23MM.  As Joe Baker of 18to88.com pointed out, though, the $69MM was a misnomer.  Or a way to make the contract look “bigger” than it was.

Agents often do this in order to make themselves come off as better negotiators.  But with the announced cap hit of approximately $16MM in the first year, combined with reports that the cap hit in the second year wouldn’t be much more, the more likely truth is that the report of $69MM U.S. is the totality of the bonus money combined with the base salaries of the first three seasons.

Instead, it was easier to see a number and release the hounds.  Manning has a big head, after all, so he is a pretty inviting target.

- The signing of Ernie Sims:  Of all the signings so far, this is the one that excites me most.  Sims is a prototypical Colts LB.  He’s small (6’0, 230lbs) but quick and agile.  He has good tackling technique and can occasionally deliver the big hits.  In pass coverage, he has shown in the past the ability to thrive in zone schemes.  He does have the ability to over pursue against the run, but that can be fixed with some coaching.

I’m not too concerned about his past.  He played well with the Lions until an injury sidelined him in 2009.  And while he struggled with the Eagles in 2010, I believe that was due to scheme more than talent.  Take most Colts linebackers – when they are put into a zone scheme, where their athleticism can shine, they shine.  When they are put into man-coverage and blitzing schemes, they tend to get swallowed up.  Ernie Sims was simply a square peg in a round hole in the Eagles attacking scheme.  I expect Sims to challenge for the remaining starting spot in camp.

- Jamaal Anderson:  I like the pickup, but not because I have any hopes that he will return to the form that made him a first round draft pick in 2007.  At 6’6″ and 289lbs, I expect Anderson to be playing defensive tackle and defensive end.  On the inside, I expect Anderson to use his best attribute, a quick first step, to become a penetrating tackle the Colts are constantly seeking.  On obvious run downs I expect Anderson to slide outside and provide much needed rest for Freeney and Mathis.  The Colts love versatile guys on the DL who can play inside and outside, and Anderson should be able to excel in that role.

- Tommie Harris:  This is one of those signings that seemed to make too much sense to happen.  Five years ago Harris was the perfect DT in the “Tampa-2.”  A 3-technique tackle who could overpower the guard or center blocking him and disrupt plays, pass and run alike.  Numerous injuries and an inconsistent work ethic have hampered Harris’ ability to perform at a high level in recent years, but situation (pass rushing) snaps next to Freeney and Mathis could be just what the doctor ordered.

All three of these signings have a few things in common.  First, all three players are young, with Harris being the oldest at 28 years old.  Second, all three are high ceiling players.  Third, all three feel like they have something to prove.  They came into the league as top draft picks.  They either performed at a high level and then fell off (in the case of Sims and Harris) or failed to live up to their draft status entirely (Anderson), but all three will be eager to prove that the can still be special players in the NFL.  And finally, if they are no longer special, the Colts are not risking any thing.  They did not have to trade for any of these players, and all three signed one year, presumably reasonable salary deals.

#ShamelessSelfPromotion – We’ll talk about all of these issues plus a few others, including the first few days of Colts camp on this week’s episode of Check it to Pancakes, hosted by yours truly.  It should be posted tomorrow morning, noon at the latest.  Be sure to check it out.  If you want to gab with me, you can follow me @PancakesPodcast.  I enjoy long walks, creepy tweets, and a good joke.