Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano might survive another season if Luck bides healthy, but is Brock Osweiler the right human to resulted the Texans offense?
Will Andrew Luck get hurt again ?
Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson survived the 2015 season. They wont survive another like it.
For too long, Pagano and Grigson have relied on Andrew Luck to cover their failings. Before last season, the Colts had been to the playoffs every year under their current regime. Last season was the first time they missed out, and it was also the first season in which Luck faltered. Luck never appeared healthy. He struggled to hurl the ball downfield, despite repeatedly constructing some of the most difficult throws a quarterback can construct to that phase of his career. He often stimulated those throws look relatively easy, too. Without Luck, Pagano and Grigsons Colts still competed in the AFC South, but that was more a reflection on the quality of the division than the quality of their team.
Surviving let Pagano and Grigson to focus on the rosters greatest flaw: its offensive line.
According to Football Outsiders, Luck resulted the league in knockdowns( hits+ sacks) in each of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. He didnt play enough to lead the league in 2015 but still ranked in the top six for knockdown percentage. As a testament to his quality, Luck has thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions on those plays. Asking your quarterback to perform under that kind of duress each season not only puts pressure on him to stay healthy, it also stimulates it extremely difficult to create an efficient passing game. Pagano and Grigson had two alternatives: they could either find better offensive linemen, or alter their philosophy to alleviate the pressure on their current linemen.
Unsurprisingly, the Colts preferred the most direct route. The Colts have had some terrible linemen in front of Luck. Gosder Cherilus, Todd Herremans and Samson Satele headline the veteran busts that the team has acquired out of desperation. That desperation has existed because they have repeatedly failed to develop the linemen they draft. Jack Mewhort and Anthony Castonzo have become competent starters but thats about it. The Colts drafted three offensive linemen that they intended to eventually insert into the line alongside Castonzo and Mewhort. Center Ryan Kelly was a first round picking, tackle LeRaven Clark was a third-round pick and guard Joe Haeg was a fifth-round picking. Haeg and Clark both definitely sounds like developmental players who need to sit at this stage.
Pagano showed no confidence in his new offense. Luck was held out of the first pre-season game and the franchise openly acknowledged that Rex Ryans pass hurry-up was the reason why. During the third preseason game, Luck was pulled from video games earlier than expected because of the teams failing pass protection. After that game, the normally upbeat Pagano seemed more defeated than ever before: When you dont have a clean pocket, you dont have time to stand in there and push the ball downfield. Weve got to be better, plainly. Im not going to make any excuses, but weve got some guys out of there right now that have been in there. You start playing musical chairs again and its tough.
Mewhorts loss combined with the developmental status of two of the rookies entails the Colts offensive line is unlikely to improve. This is where Pagano should earn his fund and adapt his offense to fit his personnels. Thats not something hes ever been willing to do when Luck has been available.
After the 2014 season, Pagano was asked about his squads doctrine. His reply featured all the hallmarks of bad coaching: Well never change[ our run-first] mindset. New England rushed 46 days. In all three other[ divisional] games, the winner( s) all rushed for 30 periods and averaged[ 144.3] yards. The losing squads averaged 88 yards rushing. So will we ever change? No.
Pagano doesnt understand that teams who play with a result are more likely to run the ball, so winning teams operate but running squads dont inevitably win. He also employed the Patriots as an example to support his philosophy the same Patriots who had abandoned the run and thrown the ball 50 days the previous week. Being stubborn as a head coach-and-four is never a good thing. Pagano is stubborn, so he wont alter the scheme his offense runs, irrespective of who the offensive coordinator is.
Luck will again play in a heavy-set, run-first, power scheme that asks him to hold the ball and take deep dropbacks on every other snap. That they are able to emphasized the offensive line as much as possible. If Pagano didnt work under a misguided thought process, he would set Luck in a shotgun-heavy offense that would allow the quarterback to get rid of the ball speedily to short and intermediate roads. That would both protect Luck and ask the offensive line to block for a shorter time. Pagano will blame his offensive linemen or Luck, like he has previously, without realizing he is the biggest problem in Indianapolis.
Because Luck is still the greatest equalizer in the league when healthy, the Colts could still win the AFC South. History shows us that he can drag bad teams to the playoffs even while being interred with burdens few quarterbacks in history could carry. If that happens again, Pagano and Grigson might even survive another season.
Has Bill OBrien put the right pieces in place in Houston ?
Bill OBrien has an 18 -1 4 record as the Houston Texans head coach. He built the playoffs for the first time last year after his second successive win season. On the surface, the Texans appear to be an ascending squad entering the offseason. Yet the roster had more problems than most entering the offseason.
Despite his success over his first two years in Houston, OBrien hadnt tied himself to a quarterback. He hadnt even made a real effort to find a quarterback, instead swapping out different sets from the sale stand of subpar starters. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer have all started for the Texans over the past two years. Tom Savage was the only quarterback Rick Smith drafted since OBrien was hired. Savage only cost a fourth-round picking and has thrown 19 passes in total during his two-year career. That changed this offseason. After Hoyers disastrous playoff performance at the end of last season, OBrien set about overhauling his whole offense.