Nice Try Mr. Brady

Nice try Mr. Brady. You almost had us convinced that you were innocent. That you weren’t the cheater we all thought you were. That the laws of science don’t apply to footballs. That we were all brainwashed by Roger Goodell into believing that you would deliberately break the rules then lie about it.

Nice try Mr. Brady.

Don’t get me wrong here. What Brady did has no bearing on what he physically accomplished on the field. Under-inflated footballs or not, he’s still an elite quarterback and one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play football. However, as it is in most cases today, perception is reality. People perceive that Brady broke the rules and then tried to cover it up when it came time to face the music. Whether or not athletes feel responsible for it, the content of their character is sometimes weighted as much as their on-field accomplishments in the eyes of people. And with that, a lot of the collective respect NFL fans had for Mr. Brady has quickly evaporated. An innocent man doesn’t destroy his cell phone within a few days of meeting an investigator. But people wanted to give the NFL’s golden boy the benefit of the doubt. And to Brady’s credit, he tried giving them reasons to. From casually avoiding the question and claiming the “truth would come out” in his interview with Bob Costas to appearing before a group of Patriots fans and leading the charge of his own innocence, he made it appear there was no wrongdoing. The owner and head coach he plays for even came to his defense.

Nice try Mr. Brady.

Brady and co. could’ve easily avoided this. When the accusation rolled out before the Super Bowl, Brady could have come forth and simply stated the truth. Come clean and the league likely gives him a slap on the wrist and fines the organization for not being aware. Americans are forgiving by nature. We’ve forgiven plenty of athletes and the likes that’ve made mistakes and given them second chances. But instead, Brady’s arrogance led him to believe he was above reproach. He made it appear that by denying and lying about what happened, he could somehow get Roger Goodell to give up this tug-of-war game and convince all of us that he was untouchable.

Nice try Mr. Brady.

With the NFLPA receiving Brady’s permission to go ahead and file suit, his reputation is sealed. Regardless of the outcome of the case, Brady will have shown all of us that even though you may cheat and get punished for it, you can still end up a winner in court. Personally, I’ve had a lot of respect for what Brady has accomplished in the NFL. Up and until he tried to convince me that he wasn’t a cheater.

Nice try Mr. Brady.

4 Burning Questions Before Colts Training Camp

1. How will the Colts defensive line look?

Since Chuck Pagano’s arrival to Indianapolis, the defensive-minded coach has seen his defensive line be an Achilles Heel for the team. Former 1st round pick Bjorn Werner has yet to live up to expectations. Cory Redding will be playing in a different uniform while Josh Chapman has yet to record a sack since entering the league. The Colts made an attempt to bolster their defensive line in signing former St. Louis Rams player Kendall Langford. Langford will be in the 3-4 since 2011 with Miami where he claims to have played at his best. It will also be interesting to see how fellow rookies David Parry and Henry Anderson are implemented as well. But given that they are first year players, expectations should be tempered. The X factor in all of this will be Arthur Jones. Last season, an injury limited him to 9 games and visibly slowed him when he did play. However, when healthy, he is the Colts best interior defensive lineman. If the Colts plan to take the next step and win a world championship, a large part of that hinges on the play of their defensive line.

2. Who will stand out amongst a talented group of wide receivers?

Right now, the Colts most talent latent position is also one its most intriguing. Speedy rookie Phillip Dorsett turned heads at OTA’s while Andre Johnson looks to step in as the team’s replacement to Reggie Wayne. The Colts hope that Johnson can give them the same type of veteran presence that Wayne had given them. Second year upstart receiver Donte’ Moncrief is also looking to take a leap after showing promise his rookie year. Add this in with intriguing CFL product Duron Carter and you get a wide receiver competition that will be amongst the league’s most watched during training camp. And of course, this all without mentioning the team’s best receiver in T.Y. Hilton, whom has his spot securely locked as Luck’s primary weapon.

3. How will the Colts rushing attack take shape?

Much to the dismay of Colts fans everywhere, the Colts released Trent Richardson in the offseason (might just be a tad bit of sarcasm in there). With Richardson out, former 49er’s running back Frank Gore is in. It’s fair to assume that Gore will be the workhorse back but the real question lies in who’s behind him. Ahmad Bradshaw is gone as well and given his age, injuries and off field incident this offseason, it’s likely the Colts don’t bring him back. Vick Ballard returns in a contract year after two devastating knee injuries the past couple of seasons. It’ll be interesting to see what he has left in the tank after his rookie year showed some upside. Daniel “Boom” Herron returns after showing a few flashes towards of the end of the regular season. The Colts will keep a close on eye on Herron to see if his fumbling issue has improved. Zurlon Tipton looks to get more playing time after playing sparingly last season along with rookie Josh Robinson out of Mississippi State. All in all, the Colts running back position will be an interesting one to see develop.

4. Will the Colts offensive line finally click?

Arguably the biggest question heading into camp this year is how the Colts offensive line will take form. For much of last season, problems with protecting Andrew Luck remained at the forefront. It wasn’t until later in the year that the unit started to gel, with its best performance coming in the wildcard playoff game against the Bengals. Anthony Castanzo was the lone consistency on an otherwise roller coaster offensive line. Outside of Castanzo though, there are many questions to be answered. For one, how will Jack Mewhort fair at the right tackle position? Given the Colts decision to release Gosder Cherilius, it’s apparent that the Colts feel confident with Mewhort at that spot. Another position on the line to watch will be the center position. Last season, the position was a revolving door between A.Q. Shipley, Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison. It appears that the job is Holmes’s to lose heading into camp so we’ll see if he holds on to it. The Colts brought in longtime Philadelphia Eagle Todd Herremans to likely fill the right guard position. However, given his age, it’s fair to wonder if he will remain there all season. Lastly, the left guard position is up for grabs. While Hugh Thornton has played there, Lance Louis should also be looked at to start at a position that is notably its most weakest.

The Colts open camp to the public on Sunday August 2nd.

Why We Should Expect An MVP Season From Andrew Luck

When Andrew Luck entered the NFL in 2012, he was the most heralded quarterback to enter the league since the quarterback he would go on to succeed in Indianapolis. His rookie season saw him set the NFL record for rookie passing yards amongst others. As Luck would progress through his 2nd and 3rd seasons, his statistics would only improve. He would raise his quarterback rating and completion percentage each season. But now, after advancing his team to the AFC Championship game a season ago, the expectations for Luck are going even higher this season. So why should we expect an MVP season from Luck? Here’s a few reasons:

Experience

In the NFL, quarterbacks progress at a yearly rate and start to hit their stride around their 4th and 5th seasons. In Luck’s rookie campaign, he lead an unprecedented seven game-winning drives. In his 2nd season, he lead the Colts to their first post-season win since his arrival while beating 4 playoff teams during the regular season. Last season, the Colts made the playoff once again under Luck’s helm, winning 2 playoff games in the process. Andrew Luck will be entering his 4th year and given the consistency of his progress since his arrival in the NFL, one should expect nothing but improvement this year in all aspects of his game. But the experience he’s gaining isn’t just statistically related. Each season Luck has progressed his team a step further in the post-season as well. Playoff experience isn’t something that will show up in statistics or measures but it cannot be discounted. These experiences help a quarterback in battling adversity in tough situations. Given Luck’s experience to this point in them, it should only benefit him moving forward.

New Weapons

This past offseason, the Colts acquired longtime Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. Since his arrival in Indianapolis, the 13 year wideout has had nothing but praise for Andrew Luck, going as far to call him the best quarterback in the game. While Johnson isn’t quite the same receiver he was earlier in his career, he gives the Colts a steady option at the outside receiver position that has been lacking since the beginning of Luck’s career. The Colts also drafted speedy wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who has been turning heads at OTA’s, to add to a crowded crop of receivers. Add these new pieces along with an intriguing prospect in Duron Carter and upstart second year wideout Donte Moncrief and you have one of the deepest wide receiver cores in the entire NFL for Andrew Luck to throw to. Of course, this is all without mentioning T.Y. Hilton, who has quickly become of the league’s premier receivers. But it isn’t just the receiver position that has gotten a boost.

An Improved Running Game

Among the Colts offseason acquisitions, Frank Gore appears to be one the least talked about. A workhorse in San Francisco, Gore faced 8 man fronts a whopping 76.2% of the time last season, with the next closest player being DeMarco Murray at 58.3% of the time. Despite facing these fronts, Gore continued to produce without missing any games in the past four seasons. In Indianapolis, one should realistically expect for Gore to see less 8 man box fronts, giving the bruising running back more room to work and take pressure off of Andrew Luck. Given Gore’s age as well, it will greatly benefit him to see less stacked boxes over the long haul of a grueling NFL season. One of the major flaws with the Colts offense last year was an inconsistent rushing attack (see Trent Richardson). Towards the end of the season however, the Colts running game started to improve in part because of Boom Herron getting majority of the snaps. While Herron is serviceable, his skillset doesn’t match that of Gore’s. Gore’s underrated ability to protect the quarterback in passing situations should benefit Andrew Luck greatly.

If all these are able to mix all together correctly, the finished result could be one special season for Andrew Luck and the Colts.