A Quick Overview of The Indianapolis Colts

With the Colts offseason in full swing, here is a quick overview of the Colts heading into 2016, both the good and the bad.

Defense:

The Good

-Kendall Langford, Henry Anderson(coming back from ACL), David Parry and Arthur Jones (if he can stay healthy) can help shore up the defensive line that has been a crutch since the Grigson/Pagano era began.

-The defense was better against the run last year than it has been for most of the Pagano era. If the defense can build on this, they should be in a good position heading into this year.

-Vontae Davis can improve upon on his performance last season to revert to his 2014 form while Patrick Robinson should be a clear upgrade over Greg Toler.

-Clayton Geathers appears to be looking good in OTA’s and showed some flashes last season while Mike Adams should be adequate unless his age finally catches up to him this season.

The Bad

-The LB core is clearly the weak point of the defense. Adding Ted Monachino should help given his history with LB’s but the overall talent just isn’t there. Losing Jerrel Freeman to Chicago is also a big hit. Trent Cole was a disappointment for most of the season. Robert Mathis is a year older while Erik Walden won’t contribute much more than he already has to this point.

-Darius Butler continues to be a liability in coverage outside the slot and didn’t look all that impressive last year in the slot vs. his previous seasons. Once you move past Davis and Robinson, the CB position looks very sparse.

Offense:

The Good

-The offensive line should be improved by simply adding center Ryan Kelly and former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Kelly will help Luck with a number of his calls at the LOS while Philbin should help the players be more sound from a technical perspective. I believe this is a critical part of the offensive line’s success that might’ve been a major factor in the line’s shortcomings. However, some questions still remain.

-The WR core should be improved with a healthy Dorsett and another year of experience for Donte’ Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton.

-Andrew Luck being healthy speaks for itself. Last season the team finished 8-8 while he missed significant time. However, even when Luck played, his performance was abysmal at times. Him improving and cleaning up his bad habits will be the key difference.

The Bad

-The offensive line continues to be a major question mark despite the draft addition of Ryan Kelly. Joe Reitz appears to be a good fit at RT but is injury-prone. Castanzo had an off-year last year so there is some question as to whether he will rebound or not. The RG position continues to be the biggest question mark with no definitive player standing out to fill this position.

-The RB position has grown into a bit of a question mark as well. Gore is in the last year of his deal while the slots behind him appear to be muddled at best. If Gore were to miss any time due to injury, the lack of depth will become apparent very quickly.

-The tight end position isn’t a huge cause of concern but there are some questions. To much surprise, Dwayne Allen was retained and Coby Fleener signed with New Orleans. Jack Doyle looks to see an increased role opposite Allen. However, given Allen’s bout with injuries, it’s fair to wonder how he will hold up this season.

Biggest Addition:

It’s a bit of a no-brainer but the coaching staff changes should be the biggest help to the team. Joe Philbin has had some success in the past working with offensive linemen and players appear to be receptive to him thus far. Chudzinski will able to implement his full offense that has seen success when he was in both Cleveland and Carolina. Brian Schottenheimer should bring some fresh perspective to Luck as well as help him clean up some of the bad habits he’s developed. Ted Monachino has had a history of working well with LB’s from his time in Baltimore and should align more philosophically with Pagano given their work history.

 

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Millennials and the Democratic Socialism Paradox

Dear fellow Millennials,

Herewith I ask you, why do some of us believe in appealable Democratic Socialism? Is it the Robin Hood complex that burns fervently inside? Is it the twisted mentality of entitlement that has come to plague our generation? Or rather, is it the intellectual neglect of history? A 2015 Reason-Rupe survey showed that 53% of 18 to 29 year olds viewed Socialism favorably, the only age group to do so (1). What makes this system so appealable to Millennials? Today’s brand of Socialism packages itself with the entitlements of free health care and college tuition while pointing to socialized European countries as examples. The following will discuss these three elements.

Universal health care apologists are quick to point to Canada’s system as a glowing example of universal health care and insinuate how this could work similarly in the United States. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States all have less waiting times in emergency care departments in comparison to Canada (2). These wait times don’t just apply to the emergency room either. More than half of the Canadians in the survey said they couldn’t get an appointment with their family physician on or the next day (2). Longer wait times have lead to increased mortality and an increase in reversible condition’s turning into permanent disabilities (3). Wait times may not presently disturb Millennials as a Zocdoc survey found that 9 in 10 Millennials do not schedule regular, preventive doctor visits (4). However, as these Millennials inevitably get older, doctor visits become more and more warranted. It’s plausible that the wait time issues that plague Canada’s health care system go unnoticed with Millennials because they do not necessitate the need to see their own physician right now.

Wait times remain half of the issue however. High health care costs are increasingly attached to universal health care. Millennials have taken akin to watch their money in regards to their health care. In a 2012 Deloitte survey, Millennials topped the survey as the generation that is the most cost-conscious with regards to health care (5). Not only are Millennials cost-conscious, they seek discounts for their health care, more so than other age groups. Eight % of the U.S. general population asks for a discount on medical care, that number leaps up to 19% percent for Millennials age 25 to 34, according to a 2015 report by global auditing and consulting firm PwC (5). If fiscal responsibility is of utmost importance, universal health care is not the answer and would only increase financial burden on Millennials. The Affordable Care Act, a large step towards a universal health care system, is already driving up health care costs. Oregon was the first state to announce that those who buy their own health insurance will have to pay higher premiums in 2017 (6). Tennessee’s largest insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, announced that it would raise its premiums by an average of 36% next year (7). Small businesses that Millennial’s work for have also seen an increase in their health care costs. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, rates in the small market group were raised 11% in 2014 (8). As a result, one in five businesses have reported they have cut the number of workers they have on payroll (8).

Let’s move into the world of free college tuition. Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Millennial’s beacon of hope, has outlined an ambiguous plan for debt-free college tuition. Germany is the archetype to many supporters of this system. The United States has a 32% higher enrollment amongst students going on to post-high school education than Germany based on 2012 numbers from the World Bank (9). Germany’s income tax rate is significantly higher than the United States while having a tax wedge percentage that is almost 19% more as well (10). In turn, higher earners in Germany may be led to implement themselves into other societies that allow them to keep a greater percentage of their earnings. Another factor to consider with Germany’s system is the vast number of underemployed graduates. A study shows that nearly 50% of United Kingdom college graduates are in non-graduate jobs (11). This suggests that putting more people through the collegiate system by means of it being free wouldn’t solve underemployment issues, but may rather compound it. It would simply be impossible to “plug and play” Germany’s free collegiate education system to fit the United States without major tax increases and increased underemployment.

Greece, another socialist European country, is in economic shambles in large part because of its socialist leanings (12). According to the Heritage Foundation, Greece ranked 138 in subsequent economic freedom while countries like the United Kingdom and the United States rank 10 and 11 (13).

Norway doesn’t present itself as nearly the shining example either. Norway doesn’t have a minimum wage. The United States meanwhile is in the midst of public debate on whether to raise its minimum wage doubly, in which 14 cities in 2015 have already done so (14). Norway is a country with 4.1% unemployment (15), very little to no immigration historically (16), little to any variation in lifestyle or opinion along with a publicly held oil trust that makes people millionaires (17). The U.S. meanwhile is the prime example of a melting pot with many varying lifestyles, opinions and immigrants (18). The U.S. also has a population that is about nine times the entire population of Norway with a huge number of illegal immigrants that alone make up nearly twice the population of Norway. Norway is a country that has the economic and geographic makeup that makes it an ideal candidate for Socialism to work. The United States is not for aforementioned reasons. So why are Millennials pushing for this brand of Socialism?

Younger Millennials, ages 18 to 24, as a whole have shown to believe that all kids participating should receive a trophy as found in one survey (19). Our fellow Millennial college graduates have trouble recalling how the Constitution is amended (20). Further troubling, a recent Reason-Rupe survey showed that only 16% of Millennials could accurately define what Socialism actually is (21).

Before I descend from my soapbox, I share one final story. I recently witnessed a young lady expressing her angst on a Facebook post about how she had graduated from college and now has a substantial amount of debt. She now has a job that she believes doesn’t compensate her in the manner in which she believes it should. This points to the disillusionment of equality that I see Millennials falling privy to. Going through a four year collegiate degree program doesn’t always necessitate success nor does it oblige financial compensation. Millennials are lead to believe that the exception is the rule. Isolated stories of twenty two year old millionaire entrepreneurs populate the news feed, selling rainbows and candy in a visibly attainable package. These and other minuet cases don’t reflect a plausible reality. Instead of working to attain success, the Millennial feels that similar success is waiting for them once they step off the commencement stage at graduation.

Millennials, it’s time to wake up and start working for the level of success that we want and abandon the misplaced allure of free entitlements that comprise Democratic Socialism.

The End of An Era

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(Photo: The Atlantic)

The end of an era is descending upon the GOP. Gone are the days of establishment dominance. Gone are the short-lived heydays of the Tea party’s antithesis. In their place is the new, torch-wielding populist division that appears to be running a freight train straight into November. Republicans watched their untempered frustrations cultivate itself into an unprincipled indignation that has brought a political outsider to the brink of crashing the whole party.

This could spawn a number of outcomes. It could pave the way for a long-sought third party to rise up that could change the political landscape as we know it. Democrats have allowed themselves to walk down a path of ideology scavenging that one will one day cause their identity to self-cannibalize. More importantly, it could mean the beginning of end of Conservatism as we know it.

Donald Trump’s ability to channel people’s anger raises a deeper question that begs us to delve into the mindset of the population that has quickly become infatuated with him. Americans have become fed up with Washington hypocrisies on both sides of the aisle. They clamor for an outsider that doesn’t have their strings pulled by stigma-tying lobbyists. Ultimately, they want someone that can legitimately change how we run our country. The reality isn’t so plausible however.

The notion that we can solve the world’s problems with a dose of rhetoric and freshness isn’t just unrealistic, it’s downright impossible. Yet, Americans are proving to be hopeless romantics in more ways that one. Our participation trophies create a false sense inclusiveness that undermines reality. We echo retorts that money can’t buy our happiness but spend inordinate amount of hours working for it. Now, we are hoping that a political outsider can rescue us from the tyranny of Washington bureaucrats.

Peyton Manning: The Ultimate Comeback Story

What makes a great comeback story? Is it the level of adversity? Is it the test of character and grit? Rarely do we get to witness stories that embody such virtuous elements. Peyton Manning’s 2015 season has all the right ingredients to make it the ultimate comeback story.

The Signs of Father Time

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(Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey)

Father Time knows no boundaries. At times, we saw flashes of the old Peyton Manning. Other times we saw the effects of Father Time pulling at Peyton’s cape. Coming into the 2015 season, many had already believed that Peyton Manning was finished. Despite his early season struggles, the Broncos continued to win. After a 7-0 start, Manning’s true test of adversity began.

The Bottom

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(Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey)

After dropping their first game of the season to the Colts, the bottom fell out against the Kansas City Chiefs. Manning threw four interceptions and was benched in the same game that saw him break the all-time passing yardage record. In the coming weeks, questions loomed about Manning’s health and if many wondered if he would ever see a football field again. Then, Al-Jazeera released a story insinuating that Manning had taken HGH as part of his rehab from four neck surgeries in 2011.

It seemed that Manning’s legacy was crumbling before our eyes. Brock Oswieler showed enough flashes to remain the starter heading into the last week of the season. This is where the story likely could’ve ended for Peyton. We root for great stories but often end up succumbing to the realities of life. Fate had different plans for Manning however.

The Return

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(Photo: AP)

Manning’s return to the field this season would’ve been enough to satisfy most comeback stories. His surprising return against the San Diego Chargers seemed to afford him a rightful conclusion to his career. For the first time in his career, Manning was a healthy backup. The Broncos offense sputtered to the tune of five turnovers. With homefield advantage dangling dangerously in the balance, Kubiak made a choice that set fate in motion.

“Sometimes you just feel as if the team is looking around for that guy,” Kubiak told media after the game. “That tremendous leadership type of stuff, that’s what I felt… My gut told me to turn it over to Peyton, let him lead this football team.”

“I saw him in the training room the whole time getting ready, and I can see it in his eyes like, ‘You know what, I can’t wait to get back on the field,'” Demarcus Ware recalled of their time rehabbing from injuries. “When he got that opportunity to get back on the field and all the crowd – the 12th man in the Broncos stadium – I can see it in his eyes like ‘he’s back.’ From that point on, I knew he was ready.”

Manning’s unlikely return sparked the Broncos to victory and ignited the start of an immaculate playoff run.

The Triumph

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(Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

At every turn in the postseason, Manning faced doubt. Media pundits sang of his impending demise in unison. In the divisional round against the Steelers, the Broncos found themselves down late in the 4th quarter. The game saw a unique play where Manning appeared to be sacked, only to get back up and fire a pass down the field for a long completion. The play personified Manning’s roller coaster season. Like so many times before in his career, Manning led his team back. The Broncos defense would seal the win and launch Manning and co. to the AFC Championship game to face a familiar foe.

Against longtime nemesis Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game, many wondered if he could stand up to his counterpart that seemed to be defying age. For part of Manning’s career, the Patriots have been a thorn in his side. Poetically, Manning outperformed Brady that day and took his team to Super Bowl 50. Brady faced a defense that seemed much like the immovable one’s his team had when he and Manning played earlier in their careers. If he were to return to the big game for one final dance, the only team he could’ve beat would’ve been the New England Patriots.

“This victory is a great example of what this entire season has been like. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a lot of different people stepping up. This game today was truly a team game.” said Manning after the game.

The Finish

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(Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

No quarterback in NFL history had won a Super Bowl with two different franchises. At the end of Super Bowl 50, Manning would become the first to do just that. A quarterback that carried his team to victory throughout his career found himself being lifted up by his team on the unlikeliest of Super Bowl runs. Manning now finishes his illustrious career with 200 total wins, the most touchdowns and yards in NFL history and 3rd most postseason wins.

Manning told SI’s Peter King the following after the win:

“I hadn’t been a backup, hadn’t really been injured. I played a long time, but I’d only seen it from one way. I know there are a couple scenarios that I haven’t been in, but I covered a lot of bases this year. Like I said, there is a real perspective to that. And it was really sort of educational for me. You know nobody loves the quarterback position more than me. Today, with the 50th Super Bowl and the league bringing back all the MVPs, I saw Phil Simms and I saw Joe Montana and Steve Young out there on the field before the game. I wanted so badly to find a way to be out there for that MVP picture out there with Eli and Tom Brady and Joe Namath. Impossible. There was no way I could do it. But nobody loves quarterbacks more than me and I think I have an even greater perspective and appreciation for the position after this year and I’ve stuck with it. You find out a lot. And it certainly ended up in a real good way today, didn’t it?”

For a player that has the most fourth quarter comebacks in NFL history, it’s only fitting his career would end with a comeback. This is the type of story that a Hollywood screenwriter drools over. They could now base it on a true story.

The Real Donald Trump Problem

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(Photo: Huffington Post)

It has been largely unavoidable since he announced his bid for President. Donald Trump continues to polarize people (whether through admiration or disdain) around the country. The GOP establishment has launched an all out blitzkrieg to try and prevent Trump from becoming the nominee. The National Review’s telling piece of its criticisms of Trump barely touch on the real issue the GOP is facing in the wake of a possible Trump nomination.

It’s easy to see why Republican voters are gravitating towards Trump. After being disappointed with underwhelming candidates in two consecutive election cycles, the craving for a nominee that can win has reached its boiling point. Insert Donald Trump. For all of Trump’s ideological shortcomings, his ability to captivate an audience from the view of an outsider is remarkable. His flamboyant attitude towards Washington politics offers the alternative to the growing ideal that our country’s biggest decision makers are already bought and paid for. His non-sensical approach to hot button topics appeal to those exhausted by political pandering. But can he win in November?

That’s where the buck has to stop for Donald Trump. For the major numbers Trump has been boasting so far in the primaries, his numbers dip drastically in a fight with Hilary Clinton. The idea of Trump doesn’t outweigh the reality of his electability. If the GOP wants to take back the White House, they have to rally behind a candidate that has enough of a draw to upset Clinton come November. Therein lies the real Donald Trump problem.

Manning Answers Critics, Ousts Brady One Final Time

IMG_2947.JPGGreat comeback stories often make for tremendous screenplay. Rarely do we get to witness such stories outside of a movie theater. But this season, Peyton Manning has provided a story that even Hollywood couldn’t script. When sports history is asked to recall its greatest comeback stories, Peyton Manning’s 2015 season will be sitting at the top.

With one last chance to separate himself from his generational rival, Manning delivered. Manning outplayed his longtime nemesis en route to his 4th Super Bowl appearance of his storied career. Manning moved to 3-1 all-time against Brady in AFC Championship games. It seems poetic that Manning’s final run would include a concluding win against his arch-nemesis on the biggest possible stage. Manning and Brady shared an extended embrace at the end of the game, both realizing the finality of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of sports.

Now, Manning has a chance to end his career in a way that another famous Broncos player had before him. Ironically, Manning had a run in the 3rd quarter of the game that had echoed flashbacks to John Elway’s run against the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.The Broncos’ win is a chance for Elway to keep a promise he made to Manning when he signed in 2012. That promise was if he signed with the Broncos, Elway would do everything in his power “to make sure he finishes his career the way I finished mine.” But to truly appreciate this moment, we have to look at the events leading up to it for Peyton Manning.

Begin with how many had already written Manning off heading into the season after the previous year’s playoff loss to the Colts. Then add the Planter Fasciitis injury and the four interceptions that lead to his benching against Kansas City. Then, add the HGH allegations from the now disbanded Al-Jazzera America news network. Summarize it by making it appear Manning’s run is completely over with his backup playing adequately enough in his absence to deter thoughts of his return. Manning overcame all of this to reclaim his starting job before the playoffs.

Manning’s father, Archie, spoke fondly of this moment: “I’m just so happy he’s getting to play again,” Archie said. “Being hurt is the worst side of football, but just to play again, gosh, and to help them into the No. 1 seed and then to win two playoff games. … I didn’t know if he’d play again. He fought this thing a long time, and the good Lord looked down on him. … This is a special day”

For Manning, it’s vindication. It’s hard to imagine that a player of his magnitude would need it at this point in his career. But in the face of mounting critics in his tremendous comeback story, Peyton Manning showed the world that he still has enough magic left to deliver one final run.

Manning Gets One Final Duel With Brady

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(Photo: Rafa Alvarez)

Manning vs. Brady XVII. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady jiving for the right to go to Super Bowl 50. Two legends. One final time. History had appeared to rob fans of one final bout between these two.Manning was entering the clutches of Father Time with injuries mounting. After reclaiming his starting job, Manning’s team was down in the fourth quarter of their first playoff game. Yet, again he fought through to come back. If there is one lesson sports has taught us, its that when someone faces doubt and adversity, grit and character are revealed. Manning’s comeback thus far is a testament to his.

It seems that nearly every playoff game Manning has played in recent years is career defining. This one appears to afford him the opportunity to finally separate himself from his biggest generational rival. If Manning wins, he moves to 3-2 all-time against Brady in the postseason. Those 3 wins would also have come in the AFC Championship game. If the script writers are wanting to give Manning his final due, it’s only fitting one of his final scenes features a bout with Brady. Ironically, one of his worst statistical seasons has blossomed into one that has him one game way from the Super Bowl. Manning and the Broncos likely will be underdogs at home against the Patriots next week. But for Manning, it’s just part of the script.