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Re-watching this game several weeks after it had been played still did not temper the emotions of being really disgusted while watching it. I’m not talking about the quality of play. I’m sitting here watching a meaningless Week 17 game, and the Indianapolis Colts who are known for their terrible offensive line issues…well, they not only start Andrew Luck, a.k.a. the only thing of their franchise worth any value, but he plays the entire game. I will never understand the logic of NFL head coaches.
No one gives a crap about finishing strong when your team stinks. No one remembers non-playoff teams and what they did in Week 17 the year prior. All you’re doing is putting your top assets at risk and denying backups valuable opportunity to gain experience – that hopefully you could benefit from in the future if needed. I know logic does exist for resting your key starters – because NFL teams do it all the time, but only when they’re going to the playoffs. Why aren’t those playoff teams putting all their starters out the play the entire game in a meaningless Week 17? Actually, some/most of the idiotic coaches do just that. It seems to me it would make more sense to play your starters in Week 17 if you have a game the following week. You could make the argument for continuity. However, if your team is awful and way out of the playoff race — there is no argument for playing key franchise pieces. You’re just putting assets at risk for no reason.
Since the time that this game was played, the Colts loon of an owner succumbed to media and fan pressure to do something you should’ve done years ago — and that’s fire failed general manager Ryan Grigson. He should’ve never hired him in the first place. It’s funny that when the news of Grigson’s firing broke, during the Senior Bowl, I happened to watch a little NFL Network and ESPN after the Senior Bowl game caught analyst’s discussions of the just fired Grigson. People shared stories from inside the locker room or that were colleagues of Grigson’s coming up through the ranks – they said the most awful things about him. Apparently, rightfully so. From the collective of all of the discussions postmortem, Grigson sounded like the worst football mind/human working in NFL personnel. His tenure would seem to have confirmed that. My question is – why didn’t anyone share this anti-Grigson issue before this? Apparently, anyone even loosely associated with the NFL knew this guy was a boob. Why didn’t anyone say anything? I never heard an analyst express strong, major concerns – except Colin Cowherd. I’m convinced it was Colin who got the guy fired.
The Colts general manager job is potential he one of the best in football — a young franchise quarterback is already built-in; waiting for your arrival. You should be able to with multiple Super Bowls in the next decade (hopefully, Brady will retire soon). The nutty owner met with several big-name people prior to firing the GM – he met with Peyton Manning and Jon Gruden for example. He was already feeling out GM replacement options. Obviously, anyone with marketability, good standing, and self-dignity turned down the Colts’ GM job. This speaks to the Colts organization. It speaks to the Colts owner. No one in their right mind wants to work with him. Andrew Luck is stuck in purgatory.
So after an exhaustive search before and after firing the general manager, making available one of the best jobs in football…the Colts end up hiring a lower man on the personnel totem pole of the Kansas City Chiefs, a guy who has not run anything this major or anything close to it. That’s the best the Colts could do. It is frightening the lengths to which people do not want to work with owner Jim Irsay.
As far as the new general manager of the Colts, Chris Ballard, goes – I guess we’ll find out when they start drafting. But consider this… There have been multiple general manager openings in the past two postseasons and I’ve heard Ballard’s name pop up in discussions – and no one hired him. However, you can trust that Jim Irsay was on the case and surely made a fantastic decision with all his incredible business acumen acquired via large inheritance from his dad. Ballard may be a gem, but I don’t like what the tea leaves look like early on.
Again, I say… NFL teams are run worse or just as poorly as the worst run businesses in America. It’s a comedy of errors…errors that are never learned from and always repeated. Unless the Jim Irsay luckily grabbed the greatest diamond from the rough with Ballard the Colts are doomed to more mediocrity only going as far as Andrew Luck can take them.
As far as the fantasy notes from this finale…
— Well, I get a minor I told you so. Corey Grant (18-122-1, 2-15-1/2 targets) ran for 100+ yards in his first start. For two years I’ve been writing about Grant as a deep sleeper, but he tore his ACL a few games into his rookie 2015 and was coming back from that surgery and rehab this season.
Gus Bradley, master of the culture change, didn’t see fit to use Grant very much. Doug Marrone started using him right away – to be fair, there were a lot of injuries at running back down the stretch as well. Marrone was semi-forced into it. The good news is that in Marone’s preview, he got to see Grant work and succeed. At least Grant is a little less buried in the new coaches mind.
I would not suggest Grant will be the sleeper star of 2017. He’s not a main carry, workhorse RB. What he might be is a terrific screen pass game weapon and change of pace running back that could be a shock fantasy RB3/flex. He’s an instant big play waiting to happen on every touch…but someone has to get him some touches.
The 4.2+ runner had a 57-yard pop in this game and ran pretty tough on all his other carries – he has some tough running attributes along with his world class speed. A nice season end showing for Grant rolling into 2017. This is what Week 17s are meant for.
— Another guy flying under the radar with the Jaguars last two years – WR Brian Walters (8-84-0/9 targets) is a really talented, professional NFL wide receiver. He’s a Julian Edelman type weapon.
Walters had some moments in the prior season but always found his way back to getting buried. With Marone as head coach, Walters saw a lot of playing time the final two games and delivered some numbers – 6.5 catches 7.5 targets for 64.5 yards per game. If the Jaguars didn’t have one of the worst quarterbacks in all the NFL, I could get more excited about Walters as a sleeper. He deserves more playing time and touches. I don’t know that he’s ever going to get them in Jacksonville…and Blake Bortles is not a precise enough quarterback to make Walters work as a PPR star that he could be.
Tuck Walters’ name away in the back your mind if you see Marqise Lee (6-86-0/9 targets) go down with any type of season-wrecking 2017 injury this off-season. Also, watch NFL free agency upcoming…because Walters can escape of his own free will. He is an unrestricted free agent.
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— Do you know who’s not a very good wide receiver – Philip Dorsett (4-56-0/4 targets).
When you think about all of the young wide receivers that have entered the NFL and hit the ground running from their first game action or some that didn’t get the chance to shine until weeks into a season…it now seems ridiculous when a young, highly drafted wide receiver is handed a bunch of opportunities and doesn’t do anything with it. Dorsett is a shining example of that. This should’ve been the year he made an impact if he ever was going to make an impact. Donte Moncrief was injured for chunks of the 2016 season. The Colts were constantly down and throwing the ball a lot all year. Just by circumstance Dorsett should’ve had a huge season. He didn’t (33 catches for 528 yards and 2 TDs). He’s a frail, untrustworthy #4/5 type a wide receiver. Kind of a waste of a roster spot given all the young, talented wide receivers entering the league every year now.
FYI, the #29 overall pick in 2015. Nice job Grigson…
— Jack Doyle (2-10-1/5 targets) ended up having a nice year. Doyle is the opposite of Philip Dorsett – no one hyped up Doyle, but he grinded his way up the ladder and proved that he belonged. He ended up becoming the Colts best tight end and had a sneaky decent/good fantasy 2016. Fleener-Allen-Doyle for years…and Doyle emerges as the top guy.
Doyle is a free agent now and I guarantee you the Colts are going to re-sign him with a pretty nice contract. He’s very tight withAndrew Luck and he’s one of the team leaders…if not THE team leader. Doyle is a sleeper tight end in deeper leagues for 2017+. For fantasy, you want a solid/talented tight end playing on an offense like the Colts…a team constantly down and throwing a bunch to hang in games and has a top-notch quarterback to go with it.
— Jalen Ramsey (4 tackles) was screwed out of the defensive Rookie of the Year, as I predicted he would be. Joey Bosa had terrific numbers, but the Chargers defense did not get any better with Bosa on the field. Bosa made plenty of tackles in the backfield, but he was not a disruptive force…just a guy making a surge and chasing down some plays with his speed–agility. Bosa is a nice player to have in situations. Jalen Ramsey on the other hand completely shut down one side of the field and took away some of the NFL’s top wide receivers. He was exponentially more valuable than Bosa. Jacksonville wound up as the third best pass defense in 2016 (by yards per game allowed) – a lot of that has to do with the phenomenal season Jalen Ramsey had.
— A couple defensive lineman stood out to me in this game for Jacksonville, and then I went back and looked at their overall season and hadn’t realized what solid 2016s they had…
Big money free agent DL Malik Jackson (2 tackles, 2.0 sacks) started slowly in 2016 but racked up 5.5 sacks over his last nine games to finish #5 among DTs in sacks for the season.
Rookie Yannick Ngakoue (2 tackles, 1.0 sack) very much flew under my radar. I liked him coming out of the NFL Draft, but was not in love with him. I liked what I saw of him in the preseason a lot more than what I saw on his college tape. I had an overall favorable opinion that he would be a good football player. I was not so sure he’d be an instant impact IDP performer. Ngakoue produced 4.0 sacks in his last seven games. He finished with 8.0 sacks on the season with 4 forced fumbles. He had a nice year rushing the passer. That’s his main gift — applying pressure…because the only averaged 1.4 tackles per game to go with all of his pass rush stats.
Jaguars really do have a terrific foundation of young defense of talent. They are the sleeper DST of 2017.
— I’ll start to judge the new Colts general manager by how he addresses one particular situation – the Colts linebacker problem. If he thinks Edwin Jackson (6 tackles) is going to be good enough to build around – I would challenge that and say ‘I don’t think so’. Jackson produced numbers because he was forced to play due to all the injuries. He’s a high effort guy so he got some decent tackle counts on a defense on the field a lot. But watching him in games – he’s just not fast enough/quick enough to make an impact on defense. He’s more of a liability than any of his effort plays cancel out. The Colts need a major overhaul on the defensive front seven including a refresh of all the linebackers.
Looking at what the Colts did on defense this year and comparing it to what Jacksonville did – the Jaguars are so far ahead of their AFC South foe Indianapolis on defensive talent it’s ridiculous. A lot of work to do for the new Colts’ GM.