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Maybe Not Everything Looks So Bad in Colts-ville

Posted: September 22, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Chad Schrump

Image result for tolzien interception rams

After the Colts’ week one debacle in Los Angeles against the 49ers, errr, I mean the Rams – I literally had my column written before the game had concluded. That, my friends, is a snap judgement.  My critique of Colts’ Head Coach Chuck Pagano and his teams’ effort, or lack thereof, was harsh but I wouldn’t take anything back because it was fair.

The Colts players and coaches were as bad that game as any Colts team I’ve ever seen play, other than other Pagano lead Colts teams. That says something, right?  We’ve seen some bad Colts teams throughout the years in Indy but Pagano coached teams, at times, seem to be about as prepared as a grass hut vs. a hurricane.

After losing Sunday in overtime, 16-13, to the wounded Arizona Cardinals, I decided to let that game marinate for a few days. No hot takes this week.  I wanted to think about the good and the bad.

I’m certainly disappointed that for the 4th season in a row, a Chuck Pagano coached Colts team – has started a season 0-2.  Surely, you’ve seen the numbers on how that relates to making the playoffs, right?  Well, if not, let me share:

Teams that start 0-2, have about a 12% chance of making the NFL playoffs. 12%!  That’s abysmal yet for Colts’ fans, it’s becoming the norm… something we’ve grown accustomed to.

Not only that but get this! The Colts, at Lucas Oil Stadium, are underdogs to the horrid Cleveland Browns Sunday.  The Browns!  Cleveland hasn’t been favored for 21 straight games, folks.  21 straight yet they’re road favorites.  That’s downright sickening if you’re an Indy fan.  That’s Vegas’ view on the state of the Colts’ franchise… home ‘dog to the Cleveland stinkin’ Browns.  Wow.

With all that being said, let’s get past it and discuss some things that the Colts did much better against the Cardinals. Let’s put a positive spin on the near future, if that’s possible, as I tell you why things could be looking up.  And yeah, I get that it’s akin to asking, “Other than that, Mrs. Kennedy, how was the parade?”

I know they struggled late against veteran signal caller Carson Palmer and his electric receiver J.J. Nelson, but I truly thought that the young, rookie led, Indianapolis defensive secondary looked really athletic, aggressive and made some nice plays throughout. A loss is a loss but don’t forget that other than late in the 4th quarter, the Arizona offense was bottled up for essentially the entire game.

Pagano finally let 2nd round pick Quincy Wilson loose and he played well.  The kid is only 21 years old – youngest on the entire team and one of the youngest in the NFL, but he held his ground and showed lots of poise – and more importantly, promise.  Cornerback is a position that Indy has seemingly struggled with for years but Vontae Davis may finally have someone on the other side of the field that could lock things down.

Image result for malik hooker interception colts

Safety Malik Hooker, the Colts’ 1st round pick from Ohio State – made his first (of likely many) career interceptions when he made a ridiculously athletic play on the ball late in the 2nd quarter – with Arizona driving.  The pick allowed the Colts to take all of the momentum into the locker room at the half.  This kid is a freak athlete and has legitimate ball hawking skills.

At the time, I thought it was dumb, and actually still do because of undo pressure, but when Pagano said Hooker reminded him of former Baltimore great, Ed Reed, I see it now. I understand why he said it.  He’s right.  Hooker has a chance to be a special football player.  Now, should Chuck have said that the day that Hooker was drafted?  No.  But I get it.  He’s fun to watch.  He’s a special athlete.

Even rookie nickel corner and 5th round draft choice, Nate Hairston had some nice moments locking down Cardinal receivers in passing situations and even recording a sack of Palmer.

The Colts young secondary shows a ton of upside. It’s exciting.  Add to that – Vontae Davis should be back in a few weeks from a groin injury – and there’s legitimate reason to look forward to watching this secondary grow together.  I’m still holding out hope that Clayton Geathers’ neck heals sufficiently and  comes back to safety after week eight.  Geathers may well be the Colts best defensive player.  He’s a legitimate weapon and one that is badly missed in that young secondary.

It’s not often that you see an opposing quarterback pressured by an Indianapolis defense but make no mistake about it, the Colts put heavy pressure on Carson Palmer. Rookie Hairston, Hassan Ridgeway and free agent signees Al Woods and John Simon all recorded sacks against Arizona.  There have been more games that I care to count when Indy didn’t even touch a QB, much less sack him so 4 in one game was especially nice to see.

Jack Doyle played very well and is quietly establishing himself and an upper tier, NFL tight end talent. Even on a team that has a receiving corps that includes T.Y. Hilton, I’m confident in saying that Doyle has the best hands on this football team.  He snared 8 balls Sunday for 79 yards and seems to do everything correctly.  You can see why the Colts elected to let Coby Fleener depart two seasons ago and Dwayne Allen this past offseason.  They understood that they have a special guy in Jack Doyle.

Indianapolis starting quarterback, Jacoby Brissett didn’t wow anyone Sunday but understand this: The moment wasn’t too big for him and he didn’t seem overmatched.

When Scott Tolzien trotted out there against the Rams in the opener, it was apparent that the stage was too much for him – that his talent level, quite frankly, wasn’t going to be enough to beat NFL defenses.

I didn’t see that Sunday with Brissett. His arm is strong. Really strong. He laser beamed several throws.  We didn’t see that week one.  In fairness, he missed some throws, too but I’m guessing that he probably knew about 20% of the Colts’ offense when he took the field against the Cardinals.  This Sunday with Cleveland, he should be in a much, much better spot, relative to the knowledge of the playbook.  I don’t want Jacoby Brissett to be my QB of the future but I feel damn good having him as my backup.  It’s early but I like that Colts’ GM Chris Ballard brought Brissett to Indy.

Finally, the elephant in the room, Mr. Andrew Luck. I believed that he’d be back by week four, which is why I thought that if the Colts could start out just 1-2, or possibly 2-1, that they could still figure out a way to eke out 10 wins.  Well, it’s not looking like Luck will be back next week, huh?  Or the following?  I mean, when your QB hasn’t even been cleared to practice, it’s a pretty good sign that he’s not playing soon.  When your head coach swears that he knows the same as the media, regarding Luck – then I’m thinking, and bear with me here – it may be a bad sign.

That was sarcasm.

Thankfully, Indy plays in one of the worst divisions in football. No one is running away with anything in the AFC South.  Jacksonville is (1-1) and hosts Baltimore Sunday morning in London.  Let’s assume the Ravens win (they’re favored) so the Jags would be (1-2).  Seattle is coming to Nashville to take on the (1-1) Titans.  I’m thinking Tennessee drops to (1-2) by Sunday evening.  Houston at (1-1) visits Foxborough.  That game will be a mauling – so let’s call the Texans (1-2) after getting trounced by New England.

So, if the Colts can take care of business Sunday, they improve to (1-2) and are potentially tied for first in the AFC South. It’s a very real scenario.  I almost laughed typing that but seriously, tied for first in the division is absolutely possible – and you could almost say, probable.

If I were to tell you that the Indianapolis Colts would be without Andrew Luck for their first 3 games of the season, lose their starting center in Ryan Kelly, have one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL, yet would be tied for first place in their division, would you take that?

I would.

Who knows?  It might even be enough to motivate a certain $140M quarterback to get practicing and playing soon.

I know this much… it couldn’t hurt.

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Betting with Britt

Posted: September 21, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Kenny Britt

People are asking how I’m doing this, after a 9-1 week for a 2 week total of 17-3. CONFIDENCE. Yes, I have bad weeks. Yes, I sometimes have a couple in a row. But I’m not scared to play what I like. I learned this while learning how to handicap horse racing. When I first started handicapping the ponies, I would see a horse I liked, but if he was long odds, like 15-1 or so, I’d say, “He can’t win, he’s long odds and nobody is betting him”, so I wouldn’t make the bet. They usually won. So what I learned over time was, I was just a better handicapper and knew more than 90% of the horse players cause I put time, effort, and do my homework on such things as breeding. Odds are based solely on what the public bets, and 75% of people are just playing the favorite, or the grey horse, or the one with the cool name. I play the horse that statistically has the best chance to win, REGARDLESS of odds, and I stick to my guns. I am confident in my handicapping ability and what I learned from my mentor who taught me so much about ponies. Same applies here, I study and study and study, make a semi-educated picked based on all info available to me, but most importantly, I STICK WITH MY SYSTEM. An Example was taking Texas last week +16 at USC. Everything and everybody said USC. I remained confident in myself, played the dog, and damned if they didn’t almost win outright. Win, lose, or draw. I’m CONFIDENT in myself. If you go into it thinking you’re going to lose, just turn around and walk away now. Now, to my picks:

1)  Duke vs. North Carolina. Rivalry game. Duke looks good, can run the ball and play solid D. Add that up and game goes UNDER 65.5

2) Michigan -10 vs. Purdue. This KILLS me to say it, but Purdue is much improved. Michigan hasn’t played a complete game yet. But today, that all turns around as Michigan outclasses (using a horse racing term) Purdue, pulls away late. MICHIGAN -10

3) Louisiana Tech vs South Carolina. If this total was 70 I’d still play the over, OVER 53

4) Florida -1.5 vs. Kentucky. One of several intriguing SEC games this week. Kentucky has played well so far, but Florida just has better athletes and, again, outclasses. FLORIDA -1.5

5) Arkansas vs. Texas A&M. Another intriguing SEC game, I’m labeling this the “hot seat bowl”. Sumlin has been on it for 2 years now, and after the UCLA debacle, a member of the board of regents wanted his head on a platter. Bielema left Wisconsin and hasn’t been able to turn around the Hogs yet. 7-6 will start getting old quick. But, he does have a smoking hot wife, which proves once again us fat guys can outkick our coverage and how important confidence is, as I have s hot wife myself. Anyways, this game goes OVER 55

6) Saints vs. Carolina. Saints have been BAD this year. However, the last 4 games have all been decided by 5 points or less, and the dog has covered all 4. Division games usually stay close. SAINTS +5

7) Atlanta vs Detroit. 2 dome teams love to get up and down the field. Game goes over by 3rd quarter. OVER 50.5

8) Seattle vs. Tenn. I hate Pete Carroll. I hate Michael Bennett. I hate Shawn Kemp. I hate rain. I hate grunge rock. I hate Starbucks (except for their hot caramel apple cider with no whipped cream) Only good thing to EVER happen to Seattle was the best baseball player to ever live played their, Ken Griffey, Jr. OH, and I’m still on the Titans band wagon. TENN -3

9) KC vs. Chargers. Another division rivalry game and the Chargers (who should still be in San DIego) have lost both games this year by 5 points. CHARGERS +3

10) Houston vs. Pats. As I said last week, I hate laying this many points, but will Houston even score? And the Pats proved last week they have a chip on their shoulder. Pats win 99-0. PATS -13.5

*Season (17-3)

Betting with Britt

Posted: September 14, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Kenny Britt

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8…That’s right folks. EIGHT. As in 8-2. I said EIGHT AND TWO. Yes, I know all about karma. I know I can very well go 2-8 next week, that’s why I’m bragging now. But seriously, I’ve been doing this for 35 years, since middle school, and the best time to make money is early in the season, like the first 3 weeks, before teams become established and form an identity and trends set in. That’s when Vegas becomes MUCH smarter than the average bettor. So, jump on them quick and early, while the picking good. So, here we go with week 2:

1) Coastal Carolina vs. UAB. STOP LAUGHING!!! Remember last week when I said my games might not be the most sexy games on the card, but it’s all about making money? Well, here’s proof. Remember, they still pay out the green folding money when you win. This game will go way over the 51.5. As a matter of fact, if it doesn’t go over, Chad Schrump will dress up as a Hooter’s girl for Halloween. (please go over)   OVER 51.5

2) Louisville +3.5 vs. Clemson. I know it’s mid September, but with the Florida St QB situation, this game will probably decide the ACC Atlantic division. Clemson has played a cupcake at home, and a good Auburn team with very little offense at home. Louisville hasn’t had a home game yet and beat 2 decent teams. Both teams have speed. But what I see happening is a very aggressive Clemson D being lil eager beavers and Jackson burning them for several big plays. I wouldn’t even be surprised if this game turns south for Dabo quickly. LOUISVILLE +3.5

3) Tenn vs.Florida. Tenn struggled most of the night vs GT, and even though they scored alot of points, it was all late and then in 2 OT’s. Florida’s D is better than a few NFL teams (like that one that plays at Lucas), but the Florida offense is painful to watch. Translation: UNDER 49.5

4) Tulsa +9 vs. Toledo. This Tulsa team is always good, plays a good schedule, and puts up points. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they won outright here. At +260, a money line play here would be a smart, value play. But 9 is way to many to give them. TULSA +9.

5) Texas +16 vs. USC. As I said earlier, I’m a numbers guy. I’m a numbers guy down to my core. Stats and numbers. Numbers and stats. I can crunch them with the best of them. And all the numbers say take USC. But my hunch, my gut (and its a big gut), tells me Texas covers on a national tv night game. Texas D is better than they showed in week 1 vs the Terps and they have a good secondary. USC wins but, Texas covers. TEXAS +16

6) Tenn -1 vs. Jags. Sometimes teams win, and other times the other team lost. Last week, the Jags didn’t win, Houston lost. (TOM SAVAGE, LMFAO)  I’m still high on Mariota and Tenn. I think the Jags are an improving team with decent talent, I just think Tenn is better in basically a pick’em game. And home field doesn’t really matter here, only 30,000-35,000 show up and half of them go get in the swimming pool on the upper deck. Jacksonville should lose their team simply for having this half stadium/half cabana atrocity. Man, I miss the old days when you went to a game to watch football. Anyways, grumpy old man lecture is over. TENN -1

7) Eagles vs. KC. KC put a hurting on NE Thursday night, which made people in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and all other US territories happy. But that’s not who KC is. They are a run 1st, run 2nd, ball possession team. And with their secondary hurting, they will be even more so this week. Wentz had a good game agaisnt the Skins, but gotta prove more to me than that. What’s all this mean? UNDER 47.5

8) Cards vs. Colts. David Johnson, probably the best player in the league is out. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald (who, btw, I’m a HUGE fan of) got their AARP cards in the mail earlier this week. And I don’t even need to analyze the Colts offense. Although I will say that Pagano, being the football man he is, it was his call to hire Rob Chudzinski as OC. OH, BTW, IF YOU DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW THIS, HE CAME FROM THE BROWNS. Nuff said. Cards win 43.9 to ZIP and stay under the number…UNDER 44

9) Steelers -5 vs. Minn. Bradford looked good, but it was against the Saints. This ain’t the Saints. Bell gets his timing down, Ben hits AB 9 times. Steelers win 27-13. STEELERS -5

10) Oakland -13 vs. Jets. Big numbers usually scare me in the NFL. But not when laying them agaisnt this years Jets team. Possibly the next 0-16 team??? Lay the number, lay the wife, take a nap, and cash your ticket 3 hours later. OAKLAND -13

Season (8-2)

Who Wore it Better?

Posted: September 14, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Chad Schrump

A big debate is raging here at the Backdoor Slider headquarters. Several readers, okay – maybe just me, think that our new gambling guru / contributor, Kenny Britt – reminds them of another famous person of the past. It struck me as I watched Seinfeld last night.

So, with that in mind – I ask you, good reader, who wore it better?

Betting with Britt’s Kenny Britt

Or Seinfeld’s Cosmo Kramer?

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Remember, Kenny went an astounding 8-2 against the spread last weekend.

Betting with Britt is due out tonight!

Sorry Chuck but it’s time to go!

Posted: September 10, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Chad Schrump

Image result for chuck pagano

The incompetence is mind numbing, isn’t it Colts’ fans? It can make a rational fan angry – searching for answers – for anything really, just trying to understand how big-time decisions are screwed up so consistently, so effortlessly by the same head coach and the same coaching staff for years now.

This isn’t a fluke. This is a proven, bumbling entity. None of this should surprise, yet somehow – the level of ineptitude shown by buffoon Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaches – all of them, is simply maddening.

This Indy football team, minus one of the best 7 or 8 quarterbacks in the National Football League, needed every break in the world, on the road, to open the 2017 season in Los Angeles. Yet somehow, without Andrew Luck – the one pounding the Colts with more body blows than anyone, was Pagano.

Scott Tolzien threw an early pick-6. Fine. Shit happens. More importantly though, he and the Colts responded immediately by driving down the field on their next possession and seemingly answered with a touchdown of their own on a nice catch and run by promising rookie running back Marlon Mack.

However, it was ruled that Mack went out of bounds at the one-yard line but replay showed the rookie runner actually got the ball over the pylon while keeping his feet inbounds. It was a helluva play. All that was left, was for the Colts’ coaches to make sure Pagano challenged the ruling.

Instead, the Colts did the absolute unimaginable. They rushed to the line of scrimmage and quick snapped the football, hoping to catch the Rams off guard. It didn’t work. The Colts then repeatedly failed to punch the ball into the end zone and settled for an Adam Vinatieri field goal.

How does that happen? How?

The tone was set.

…and the rout was on.

Pagano failed to have his guys’ collective backs and in a game that every point would be needed, screwed up as badly as a head coach could. It was an error that perhaps no other coach in the NFL would make. It was a crippling blow to a team that needed to answer the Rams.

Instead, the message was sent loud and clear:

Pagano essentially told his team that he didn’t believe in them. He didn’t defend a bad call. He decided that he needed to be tricky to put points on the board by quick snapping the ball.

It was a complete disaster.

It was quintessential Chuck Pagano.

I’m not going to recap Sunday’s game. We all saw the horror show that is one Scott Tolzien. Not one but two pick-6 interception returns? I begged for Stephen Morris but clearly, being erratic in OTA’s was more important than being good in games. Is that maddening or what? That’s a damn joke.

Did Pagano make that decision or did Colts’ GM Chris Ballard? This franchise had 9 months to find a suitable replacement for an injured Luck and this is what they decided on? Jesus, did Jim Irsay make this decision?

Just know this though:

Indianapolis began the game with some fire in their bellies on the defensive side of the ball but once Pagano hijacked points off of his own scoreboard, you could see the deflation from the entire team. They were done. They looked like a birthday balloon that someone let the air out of – fluttering about meekly until falling harmlessly to the ground.

You waited 252 days to watch that performance. Did you realize that? Was it worth the wait?

Under this coach, this football team quits. They almost always quit when things start going poorly. Fight or flight? Hell, they sprint out of there. Fight? Puhleeze!

So yeah, we definitely must blame the players – and my God do I ever, but you’ve got to know that this coach and this coaching staff is an absolute joke.

This football team made a subpar, 2nd year L.A. quarterback look adequate, instead of looking like the underperforming, bad draft choice that Jared Goff actually is. This guy threw 5 touchdowns all of last season. Five! He looked like Aaron Rodgers Sunday.

The Colts had no blitz packages available that put any pressure on Goff whatsoever. Oh, and TJ Green at corner is an unmitigated disaster. He’s beyond terrible. I didn’t think this defense could get any worse than last year’s.

I was wrong.

An angry Arizona is next on the slate and coincidentally, is led by Bruce Arians, many of whom – including me, believe should have remained as Colts’ head coach several years ago.

I foolishly thought that if the Colts could just hang on, while playing one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, until Andrew Luck returned – that they’d have a shot at winning the AFC South.

How stupid. They’re 0-1 and flat out quit against the Rams.

I just didn’t know that besides competing against the teams on their schedule – they’d have to beat their own coach, too.

So, with that – Chuck Pagano should be fired. Actually, Chuck Pagano needs fired even before the team plane lands in Indianapolis. It’s not personal. It’s just necessary.

When your team quits on you – the coach has to go. Immediately.

Go Chuck, go.

Betting with Britt

Posted: September 7, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Kenny Britt

Chad Schrump asked me to share some thoughts on my favorite games of the week. These games might not be the most “sexy” games on the card or on tv, but it’s all about making money. I’ll try to give you 5 college and 5 pro games, some will be over/unders.  So, without further ado, let’s get right to it:

1) Marshall @ NC St. Total is 55. Play the over and you can cash this ticket in at halftime. OVER 55

2) Louisville -10 @ North Carolina. UNC lost by 5 at home against Cal last week. Ville played against a juiced up Purdue team with a new coach, and still pulled it out. Ville is MUCH better than last week’s showing. UNC is not. LOUISVILLE -10

3) ND -4 vs. Georgia. I’m not particularly a ND fan, so this isn’t a “homer” pick. Georgia will start a freshman QB. ND looked pretty good last week, and they’ll step it up this week vs. tougher. National tv night game +Touchdown Jesus= some kind of crazy finish. NOTRE DAME -4

4) Oklahoma +7.5 @ Ohio St. Admittedly, this pick may be partially my disdain for OSU, Urban Meyer, and most importantly, that new OC they have (I have a self imposed rule that I can’t say his name). Sooner are stocked on offense, and payback the Bucks from last year. OKKLAHOMA +7.5

5) West Virginia -24 vs. East Carolina. EC lost at home last week to juggernaut James Madison by 20. End of analysis.

WEST VIRGINIA -24

6) Jags +6 @ Houston. Tom Savage. LMFAO. JAGS +6

7) Rams -4 vs. Colts. Scott Tolzien. LMFAO. RAMS -4

8) Titans -2 vs. Raiders. Mariota might still be underrated. And how many times do we see a team like Oakland be everybody’s “sexy” pick simply after 1 good season and fall on their face. TITANS -2

9) Arizona @ Detroit. Both teams like to get up and down the field and have the weapons to put up. Game goes over the total with a flurry of 4th quarter scoring. OVER 47.5

10) Pittsburgh @ Cleveland. Disclaimer: I’m a Steelers fan. Now to the Game, Steelers are usually a slow starting offensive team, Bell just joined the team, and they have a much improved D. Brown’s starting another rookie (we’ve never heard that before) and, well, they’re Cleveland. Add all that up, and it goes under. UNDER 46.5

*Season (0-0)

Can the Colts Shoulder the Load Until Luck Returns?

Posted: September 5, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Chad Schrump

Image result for colts tolzien

The start of the NFL season waits for no man, regardless if he’s an incumbent starter or even the face of an entire franchise. Obviously, we’re talking about Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback, Andrew Luck, and a repaired labrum that will definitely keep him out of Week One against L.A. and most likely out of the first few of weeks of NFL action.

Give credit to the Indy organization. If there was an award for refusing to divulge injury related news or rehabilitation progress, they’d finish runner-up to only the Patriots.  This tight lipped crew would even lead you to believe that their head coach has yet to see his quarterback throw the football!  Jim Irsay did come out this weekend and say that his star quarterback’s mental attitude is  “in a great place right now”… whatever that’s supposed to mean.  It’s just too bad that we haven’t the slightest idea what progress has been made with his ability to throw the football 5 feet, 5 yards, 15 yards or more.  We have no clue nor will we – until this franchise wants us to know.

Here’s the problem with you’re not given any real updates, we’re forced to make assumptions like this one: The Colts’ front office seemingly realized that backup quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris weren’t fit for purpose and decided to remedy that situation for both the immediate and long term by trading for New England third-string QB, Jacoby Brissett and then cutting the people’s backup quarterback champion – Morris.  Somehow, Tolzien survived… for now.

Gone in the trade for Brissett is much maligned, former 1st round Ryan Grigson draft pick, Phillip Dorsett.

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I like the trade from Indianapolis GM, Chris Ballard. Here’s why:  First off, I don’t think Dorsett would have been able to get out of his own way in Indianapolis.  Between injury and underperformance, Dorsett failed badly in living up to lofty expectations.  The former 1st rounder wore the scarlet letter of a former Ryan Grigson much scrutinized pick.  Anyone, even Stevie Wonder, can see what Ballard thinks of Grigson’s drafting abilities.

If you exclude Grigson 2016’s draft, the Colts current roster is only filled with 7 players selected from 2012-2016. That’s a tiny amount, right?  That’s an insane amount of misses.  It’s hard to survive, much less thrive, in today’s NFL with that kind of drafting record.  Thirty selections from 2012 through 2016 and only 7 of those players are on the active roster.

It’s a different spin on the 2016 draft because no NFL GM is exiting rookie contracts, unless the player severely disappoints, either on or off the field (see David Parry) – so yes, 6 of Grigson’s 8 selections from this draft still hold roster spots.

Dorsett will probably go on to have a solid year in New England and that’s fine. With T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Kamar Aiken and Chester Rogers in the wide receiver mix – Phillip wasn’t going to play much, if at all.  Quite frankly, many predicted that he was on the verge of being let go when the team cut its way down to a 53-man active roster.  It seemed that when Dorsett got the chance to play, he struggled – up until the Colts’ last preseason game against Cincinnati’s 3rd and 4th stringers – where he looked really solid and actually impressed.

Most of the time, Dorsett seemed to be pressing because he knew he had limited chances. In New England, with Julian Edelman lost for the year with an ACL tear, Dorsett should have ample opportunity to show his blazing speed and ridiculous potential that Grigson fell in love with in ‘15.

Jacoby Brissett has a legitimate opportunity to become a real asset while Andrew Luck’s shoulder continues to heal and even after. So, short term – I think he gives Indianapolis a real chance to win a game or two in Luck’s absence.  I certainly don’t feel that way with Scott Tolzien, do you?  I can envision a scenario where Tolzien starts against the Rams on Sunday but given another week to digest Colts’ Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s offense, Brissett could get the opportunity Week Two at home against Arizona.

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You know how I felt about Morris. He stood tall in the pocket, made tough throws into tight windows – under pressure, kept his composure and above all else, moved the football team down the field.  I still think he should have been playing with the first string much of the preseason.  He needed that shot.  All he did was complete 68% of his throws for over 400 yards but according to Ballard, Morris was “horrible” in OTA’s and in training camp.  It’s so weird to me though because when it mattered, he made play after play.

Long term, Brissett could be that solid backup that every good team needs. Unless Andrew Luck radically changes the way he plays the game of football, Brissett will most likely be needed a game or two each season.  Andrew is a football player’s football player, if you know what I mean and with that, takes lots of hits – many unnecessarily, especially for a $140M face of the franchise QB.  I’d feel better with a legitimate 2nd string QB behind him that gives the Colts their best chance to hang tough and win in a pinch. That guy could be Brissett.

In New England’s last preseason game, Jacoby completed 28 of 39 of his throws for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns with only 1 pick, plus a rushing score. I’ll take that.  Won’t you?  Not to mention and more importantly, when Tom Brady was serving his “Deflategate” suspension last year, the then rookie QB Brissett started two games for the Pats, going 1-1.  That’s solid.

In my mind, this is a win for Indianapolis. When Jim Irsay told the media that the Colts went after an unnamed veteran QB in the offseason but his “price tag was too high” – then this is what you have to find:  A hungry, athletic, talented, young quarterback that fortunately, was Tom Brady’s understudy for one season and was coached for an entire year by a guy named Bill Belichick.  Not bad.  Hell, one year of working with Brady and Belichick is probably worth more than the experience of being the starting quarterback for 1 or 2 seasons in say, Cleveland or Jacksonville, right?  I’m dead serious when I say that, too.

I’m not sold that the Colts are going to be a bad team this season. I’m just not.  As much as I think Pagano needs to hit the road, it will be interesting to see him coach a football team without Ryan Grigson seemingly pulling his strings.  Make no mistake about it, Pagano is in full performance mode – the dress rehearsal is over. He knows that he’s auditioning for his future, right now.

I actually think this team is going to surprise a lot of people, provided that, you know, Andrew Luck can actually play and doesn’t miss more than 3 games or so. If the Colts can just keep their heads above water until #12 can make his debut, they’re going to be in great shape.

This football team has a ton of offensive talent. Once Luck is back – it will be nice seeing him throw the rock to T.Y. and a seemingly healthy Donte Moncrief.  We tend to forget how explosive a healthy Moncrief is.  He’s a monster – a freak athlete.  I’ll go on record as saying that a perfectly healthy Donte Moncrief puts comparable numbers to Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton – and I’m a T.Y. fan.  I think both still have enormous upside and that’s really saying something when you consider that Hilton lead the league in receiving yards in 2016.

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Frank Gore looked really good in preseason Week 3 against Pittsburgh. I mean, sure, he’s not going to take it 50 yards to the house for a TD at this stage of his career but he was good enough to run for 1000 yards last season and showed ageless ability to gash the Steelers for 5 and 10 yard carries in a limited workload.  He’s not really fast anymore but he still has that shake and cutting ability to slash his way down the field.

Gore will have help. This weekend, Ballard signed explosive former Redskins’ RB Matt Jones (yes, he’s a fumbler – that’ll need fixed) plus rookie runner Marlon Mack seems like he has some things figured out so when needed, could spell Gore some.  If the offensive line plays just average football, just average, this team will be difficult to beat.  That may prove to be more difficult than anything as 2nd year Center Ryan Kelly is on the shelf for at least another 6-8 weeks.

With all that said, I think the Colts are due to be good again. Really good.  This team is easily talented enough to win its division and to make some noise in the playoffs.  They just need to get healthy… especially Kelly, Vontae Davis, and some guy from Stanford that runs their offense.  This isn’t a “hot take.” If the Colts can get out to a 2-1 start against a pretty easy schedule, than this is a division ripe for the picking.

The defense? H’mm.  Why’d you have to go there?  We’ll see on that.  However, I’m not sure that it’s possible to field a unit worse than last year’s squad so sign me up as a believer that the defensive side of the ball plays much better than last year’s team.

Ballard certainly made the defensive line and linebackers a priority in free agency so we’ll see. One thing’s for sure:  If last year’s offensively inept L.A. Rams do a lot of damage to the Colts’ defense Sunday, it may be time to sound the alarms and rethink all of this.

There’s good news on the horizon. Every day, Andrew Luck is seemingly getting healthier and preparing to once again quarterback this football team.

It’s just too bad the season’s opening kickoff refuses to wait for him.