The Win Now Indianapolis Colts


The Cover presents you with The Win Now Indianapolis Colts! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour

Coming into the 2013 NFL season, people weren’t expecting the Indianapolis Colts to replicate their magical 2012 success. Admittedly, I was one of these people. Through five games, the Colts are 4-1. If I told you before the season that they would be off to this type of start, you might not have been surprised because their schedule had them playing the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars which would seem like relative locks for wins. The Colts, however, took a different and more impressive route to their first four victories.

Miami Dolphins v Indianapolis ColtsThe lone loss for the Colts was handed to them by the Dolphins. I went back and looked at the box score, and the results were peculiar. The Colts led in all significant categories (total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, first downs, third down efficiency and time of possession) and each team turned it over once. The final score was 24-20, and you could say the Dolphins escaped with a win by the looks of that stat sheet. Their four wins include the aforementioned creampuffs Raiders and Jaguars but what sticks out is an impressive and dominant win against the San Francisco 49ers and a nail biter victory against the Seattle Seahawks’ vaunted defense. The Indianapolis Colts are no longer a team that should be regarded as average or maybe even above average. Advanced stats and metrics have come a long way, and the Colts’ 2012 season screamed overachievement by having the look of a 7-9 team while going 11-5. If you want some more nitty gritty on that, this article does a pretty good job outlining just how lucky they were last season. I tend to side with advanced metrics more often than not, but sometimes numbers can’t account for a variable that defies the logic and objectivity mathematics gives us. That variable is Andrew Luck.


Colts-Blog-322x276At the end of the 2012 season, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III were the talk of the town. They were all young quarterbacks that seemed to be the future stars of the NFL. It’s hard to believe a No. 1 pick in his rookie season didn’t generate much buzz (either good or bad) after his first season, but this was just the case. People (read: ESPN) love to sensationalize stories and games even if they gloss over the players and teams that are doing just as well or even better. For ESPN, everything has to fit a narrative. Even though the numbers clearly show that Griffin and Wilson had better numbers, they were also put in better positions to succeed than Luck. For Griffin, Mike Shanahan created a hybrid offense that was tailor made for him to excel, the read option and having a surprise rookie year from Alfred Morris played perfectly with his strengths as a quarterback. For Wilson, he had the support of a top-five running back (Marshawn Lynch) and also had a top-five defense protecting the lead for him, so he was not forced to do more than he had to. Luck had none of these royalties the other two were afforded. You could make an argument that the Colts running back tandem was serviceable, but they can not hold a candle to Morris and Lynch. Beyond Reggie Wayne, they didn’t attempt to surround him with weapons in his first year, even though Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hilton have emerged as legit NFL starters after  promising rookie campaigns. On top of that, the Colts gave up the most QB hits last year (114) which over a 16 game season amounts to a little bit more than seven hits a game, a ghastly figure. And to boot, their defense was  No. 25 in yards allowed on defense, so more often than not Luck was made to throw when defenses were expecting it, and most likely forced throws to try and mount a comeback. All of these shortcomings were not lost on Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay, who addressed all the shortcomings of the Colts this offseason and during the 2013 regular season. Irsay, known for not being complacent and certainly not reserved, pushed all the chips to the center of the table and went all in to bring the Indianapolis Colts another Lombardi Trophy.

NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis ColtsBy  saying Irsay “pushed all his chips to the center of the table” it may have given  the impression that he made a rogue decision. This is certainly not the case, it was a smart and calculated move that I would be very happy with if I am a Colts fan. Part of the reason Irsay did right by selling out for Super Bowl aspirations is because Luck (and all young players on rookie deals) are on dirt cheap contracts under the new CBA. Some numbers: Russell Wilson’s cap hit ($700,000) for this year means that Mark Sanchez will make more money in one game than Wilson will all season. Yeah. However, draft position matters. Wilson was drafted in the third round, so he is compensated less than Griffin and Luck, who are at $5 million a year. With such incredible signal callers at bargain prices, it gives teams a chance to sign impact players they might not be able to afford once those rookie contracts are up. However, before the new CBA was signed, teams had to shell out the big bucks for their first overall picks before they even took a snap in the NFL. Case in point: Jamarcus Russell, who the Raiders paid $61 million ($32 million of which was guaranteed) to be an overweight black hole under center. Somewhat related: new Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor requested to wear #2 for his jersey number after Russell was released and was denied because the team didn’t want another quarterback wearing #2 again. Anyway,  I am 100% on board with Irsay being all in; having a world class quarterback only making $5 million the next couple years is a luxury few are offered. But just because I agree with the strategy doesn’t mean I agree with what he did with all that cap room.

To be fair, Irsay did address all the aforementioned shortcomings with his team, he just went about it in an illogical and more expensive way that will eventually come back to bite him. For their offensive line, the Colts signed Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas. The Thomas contract was a savvy signing, but the Cherilus contract seems to be a gross overpay and is not even the worst one they made. The worst contract they made was to Erik Walden, an above-average linebacker but not one that you pay $4 million year. The last particularly bad contract that sticks out is the one they gave to the marshmellow man himself, LaRon Landry. Landry, a safety who is a workout freak, keeps putting on muscle to his frame even though it makes him slower in pass coverage, so apparently Irsay thought the next logical step was to pay him $6 million a year. I appreciate the effort Irsay put into making his team better, even if that effort was somewhat misplaced. The final move that made the Colts throw their hat in for a Lombardi Trophy was when they made an in-season trade a few weeks into this year for enigmatic running back Trent Richardson. Richardson’s body of work certainly suggested that he wasn’t worth the first round pick the Colts had to give up for him, but I thought maybe Indianapolis could put him in a better position to succeed (namely: not having Brandon Weeden as his quarterback). That seems not to be the case, as Richardson seems on his way to be labeled as a bust after being taken  No. 3 overall in 2012. Another swing and a miss by Irsay.


I will just bluntly say what I was eluding to in those previous couple of paragraphs: Irsay was handed an opportunity on a silver platter and simply screwed it up. In a particularly weak conference, if Irsay had made savvier signings in the offseason they might have been able to afford a couple more key players that could contribute in a big way. The Colts made a big splash on the first day of free agency, overpaying players they thought would also be sought after. Smarter teams stayed complacent, waiting until they had the leverage to underpay players because the players had no other option but to sign (cough cough Aqib Talib and the New England Patriots). Looking back, you could say that I was somewhat piling on Indianapolis with the decisions that it made, but my claims were justifiable. The Colts are still a good, if not very good, team, and can do some serious damage in the playoffs assuming they make it. It seems like they will be, because it seems like someone has a Matt Schaub voodoo doll and is just endlessly jabbing it with every pick six that poor human being throws. With the Texans faltering, the division seems ripe for the Colts to grab a stranglehold on. Irsay may have screwed up some decisions this past year, but it may not end up mattering with a stud like  Luck under center.


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Mike Devarenne
Guest Sports Activist for The Cover 4

Hockey Alert: Proposal to End Lockout


So it has come to this, hockey’s version of “High Noon”. After enlisting Donald Fehr as head of the NHLPA to spearhead the CBA negotiations, the Players knew that this may be a long, drawn out fight, and it has been just that. With over 50% of the season lost, and the Owners’ having no interest in anything less than a 48 game season, the so-called “Drop Dead Date” of January 11th (rumored) for an agreement to be reached is looming in the very near future.

The timing is right for a deal to be struck, we are reaching the point of no return, and we are bearing down on a more pressing date, January 2nd, which is the deadline that the Players have to disband the Players’ Union, which has been seen as their last resort option. If the Players were to disband, considering all the egos involved in this whole mess, you can nearly bet the farm that the entire season, and legitimately perhaps the NHL as a whole, could be lost.

With lower earning teams such as Anaheim, Florida, Phoenix, etc., DESPERATE to get the season started and revenue coming in again, and many other of the mid-tier teams sick of this whole fiasco, the NHL proposed a new CBA agreement to the NHLPA late Thursday night that, for the first time, truly shows the NHL making some concessions. This proposal is the first proposal that I personally feel could, and should be the proposal that puts an end to this embarrassment. Let’s take a look at some of the key points to this CBA proposal.

The Hockey Related Revenue will. Be split 50/50 between the Players and Owners

Although the Players’ share is dropping 7% from the last CBA, this was all but a fore-gone conclusion, and a battle the Players would have been better off to never fight.

The proposal calls for a 10-Year time period for the CBA with a mutual opt-out clause after 8 for both Owners and Players.

The Players have made it known that they do not want a 10-year term on the CBA and were nearly unwilling to go past 7 years, however with the opt-out clause at 8 years and the Owners making some concessions, the 10-year term may not be a deal breaker, and I personally feel that the longer the CBA the better for the fans before the next lockout (knock on wood that that doesn’t happen but history doesn’t lie).

Contract will be limited in length to 6 years, however if teams are resigning a player who plays out the last full year of his contract with a team, THAT team may sign him to 7 years.

This is the biggest concession that the owners have made to date, with NHL  Deputy Commissioner  Bill Daly saying that he “would die on a hill before budging”  from the NHL’s previously proposed 5-year contract limit. As of early Sunday morning Deputy Commissioner Daly is neither dead nor on a hill (at least that I know of). While this limits the Players ability to sign massive money deals that are spread out of 10-years to reduce the cap hit, this will help add to the competitive balance of the league by closing the salary cap loophole of long-term front loaded contracts that owners have been giving out like candy (Shea Weber, Zach Parise).

The “Make Whole” offer of $300 million is included in the proposal

The “Make Whole” stipulation is to honor already existing player contracts. Many players have felt that more than a few recent contracts were signed in bad faith, so this clause assures players that have signed contracts that they will receive the full amount owed. After talks broke down the last time, the NHL pulled the “Make-Whole” offer from the table, but from the Players’ side, a deal would not be struck without it, although I am sure Bettman is taking heat from a few Owners for putting it back on the table.

The 2013-2014 Salary Cap will be dropped to $60 million, with a transition Salary Cap for this season set at $70.2 million, with each team being afforded ONE Compliance Buy-out.

The Players will not be thrilled with this aspect as they were seeking a $67 million cap. This may be the aspect that could keep this deal from being signed. Hopefully if that is the case, the Players will be smart enough to negotiate off of this deal as a whole, and not pitch an entirely new counter offer. The Compliance buy-out is an interesting stipulation because, although teams would still have to pay 2/3 of the salary owed, they will be given complete forgiveness of that player’s Cap Hit.

Two more intriguing aspects of the proposed CBA is the addition of an unspecified “Interview Period” for all upcoming Unrestricted Free Agents, and the second addition is the adjustment to Player Discipline in which Players can appeal to a neutral third party. The latter aspect is a great addition for the players because it avoids an NFL-Type-Roger Goodell-Judge-Jury-Executioner approach to discipline.

With all this in mind, it is time for cooler heads to prevail. With this deal, the Owners will significantly increase their revenue share, and the league as a whole will be more competitive due to the Salary cap aspects and elimination of the cap hit loopholes. The Players, no-doubt are worse off (at least the top paid players) as far as their income RIGHT NOW, but with an increase to the financial health and CBA stability of the league, they will be ok in the long run. The time for posturing, PR battles, and ego-stroking is DONE.

With the two sides scheduled to meet in person later today (Sunday), I am expecting encouraging news. As a fan of the game if talks completely break down again, it would be devastating. I do not believe, necessarily, that a deal will be signed or even agreed in principle to today, but I do feel that with this proposal, that day is close, and certainly closer than it has been to date.

After this whole insane process, I will not be shocked in any way no matter how this turns out, as many in-the-know believe that Fehr will take this down to literally the last minute, but my gut is pushing me to the optimistic side.

*Follow @TheCover4 on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information on the in-person meetings*

Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Pat Davis
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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