Indianapolis Colts: The Most Positive Developments of the Colts Offseason
Irsay fired Colts President, Bill Polian (a position Polian had held with the Colts since 1997) and General Manager, Chris Polian. He also said a tearful goodbye to the most famous athlete in the history of the state, Peyton Manning, who had been with the Colts since 1998.
Along the way, the Colts replaced many people in the front office, and along the sideline. New General Manager, Ryan Grigson replaces the Polians, and new Head Coach, Chuck Pagano, replaces Jim Caldwell.
It was as close to a complete demolition as you can get.
Nevertheless, there have been many positive developments since Grigson and Pagano arrived. Here's a look at the most positive.
Cut Veterans to Create Cap Space for 2013
Back in March, the Colts cut veterans Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullit.
It was tough to see them go, especially Clark, Addai and Brackett, who were big contributors to the Super Bowl Champion team in 2006.
So how is this a positive?
Cap space! The Colts will be $43 million under the cap in 2013. That's the most cap space in the league next year. With that much room under the cap, the turnaround will be much quicker for the Colts.
They will have plenty of money to spend in free agency next year to go along with, what I presume, would be a top 10 or even a top five pick in the draft.
Another note about these four guys: Even though they were fan favorites, they all had either declining skills and/or had become injury-prone.
I couldn't see any of them becoming big contributors to the 2012 Colts.
Re-Signing Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis
The Colts said good bye to a lot of veterans and fan favorites, but they kept the two veteran fan favorites they needed.
By bringing back Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne, the Colts not only kept two identifiable faces that will help bridge the gap from the Peyton Manning Colts to the Andrew Luck Colts, but they also kept two guys that would contribute to the rebuilding process.
Robert Mathis was excited about the hire of new Head Coach, Chuck Pagano, and remains excited about his new position at outside linebacker. He's still one of the best pass-rushers in the league. He was a star on the Manning Era Colts and will be a star on the Luck Era Colts.
Reggie Wayne, even more a fan favorite than Robert Mathis, was Manning's favorite target towards the end of his time with the Colts. He will make make Andrew Luck's life as the Colts quarterback so much easier. He may not have the burst from his younger days, but he's sure-handed receiver and one of the best team leaders in the league.
After re-signing with the Colts in March, Wayne said he was going to get "Colt For Life" tattooed on his back. Passion like that goes a long way with a fanbase that just lost so many of their favorite players.
These guys still have game, and they are still loved by Colts fans.
Revamped Offensive Line
The Colts offensive line has been a major weakness for years now.
Last season, the unit was ranked 25th in the league by FootballOutsiders.com. As someone who painfully watched every game last season, I honestly can't believe they were ranked that high.
Changes had to be made, especially since the new head coach wanted to focus on running the football.
Knowing this, new general manager, Ryan Grigson, got to work.
Gone are long-time Colts, Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem. The Colts also said goodbye to Mike Pollack and Jamey Richard.
The Colts traded for Winston Justice. They signed Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn. All three of those guys figure to be starters alongside second-year pros, Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana.
With all things considered, (mainly the lack of money) Ryan Grigson has done an excellent job revamping this offensive line. It is much improved.
Andrew Luck Is Already Showing Leadership
The Colts said goodbye to one of the best leaders in football this offseason, and you need a leader to play the position of quarterback.
Andrew Luck is already showing that he is a leader.
The fact that Luck can lead a football team isn't a surprise. Back at Stanford, during a team practice with ESPN NFL Analyst, Trent Dilfer, looking on, Luck's leadership skills were on full display. After the practice (we're talking about practice) Dilfer said, "I've never seen a young quarterback do that.' To have that kind of command of an offense, and at that age."
At the Colts rookie minicamp, Luck showed the same kind of leadership. Fellow rookie and Stanford teammate, Coby Fleener had this to say after the first day of rookie minicamp: "[Andrew Luck] went out and was calling plays that were probably 30 words long off the top of his head. He's amazing."
When the Colts veterans joined the rookies during minicamp, Luck continued to show that he will be a leader on this team. Austin Collie said, "Andrew's got it. You can tell he's on his stuff, just the way he's pointing out his hots and stuff."
You need a leader at quarterback to be successful. So far, Andrew Luck has shown, without a doubt, that he can lead this team.
New Regime Is Fan and Media Friendly
Gone are the days of a tight-lipped organization under the dictatorship of Bill Polian. It was an organization that seemed to have a closed-door policy to the local media and indirectly kept information from the fans.
Here's an exerpt from SBNation after the Polians were fired:
Local media often spoke with me about Polian refusing to even speak with the Colts beat writer who worked for the only major newspaper in Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Star. This beat writer had covered the Colts since their move from Baltimore in 1984. For Polian, the writer was apparently to low-brow for his tastes. Polian refused to speak to the Star's columnist or even its featured online blogger. Polian would, however, talk to any one of his national media buddies, such as Chris Mortensen of ESPN (who broke the story yesterday of Polian's firing), S.I.'s Peter King, or anyone he was chummy with in major media outlets.
Since Grigson and Pagano arrived, they have given a number of interviews to the local media. The Colts have also had an open house, which allowed fans to watch a minicamp practice and go down to the Luca Oil Stadium field.
Granted some of the nice gestures from this new regime is intended to win back some of the fans, I think it is a culture change as well.