It’s been just under two weeks since the Ravens stiffened at their goal line, shutting out the suddenly pass-happy 49ers on four tries in the final minute to preserve Super Bowl XLVII.
If you’re like me, you have been missing football ever since.
I got at least a short reprieve this morning, though, reading a transcript provided by the Colts of new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s meeting with the local media on Wednesday.
If you haven’t had a chance to hear the way Hamilton breaks down his vision for the Colts’ offense, be prepared to have your juices start flowing and a sudden desire to strap on the helmet and go knock some heads.
The biggest takeaway for me from reading Hamilton’s transcript is that, while he’s installing his version of the West Coast offense, it won’t be pigeonholed by that term, which he actually called cliché.
This is huge.
I applauded the hiring of Hamilton last month because I believed it would help quickly establish continuity with Andrew Luck, Hamilton’s former Cardinal pupil. I also thought, after the great success he experienced at Stanford, Hamilton was far better prepared for this opportunity than he was in Chicago four years ago.
But my biggest concern over the hire was that bringing in Hamilton’s West Coast offense — a complete and total departure from Bruce Arians’ downfield attack from a season ago — could result in the Colts losing their fastball.
After hearing Hamilton describe what he plans to teach and install, I’m not nearly as apprehensive.
“We’ll do a great job of mixing in some power runs, mixing in the downfield passing game, maybe even mixing in some wildcat plays, mix in some read-option, pistol-type schemes,” Hamilton said. "Just really try and present, once again, a lot of conflicts for our opponents.”
Do I really think Hamilton will risk Luck’s health by running read-option plays? Not if he wants to remain in the NFL permanently. But I just love hearing how his offense will be varied and multi-dimensional. I get excited listening to him talk about catering his scheme to the strengths of his personnel. He actually openly acknowledges and shoots down my biggest reservation.
“I think it’s important that we all understand that we’re a sum of all our parts offensively," he said. “We’ve got to do whatever it is that our players do well. It’s obvious, just based on production that we had in the passing game this past season, that we’re a team that can push the ball downfield. That should create paranoia for our opponents.”
Hamilton goes on to discuss the vertical speed and seam-busting abilities of T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener. He talked about the versatility of Dwayne Allen. When asked if he planned to use a fullback — as he did regularly at Stanford — Hamilton said he preferred limiting the proliferation of “one-trick ponies.”
He gushed about Luck, to be sure. Not only his incredible mental capacity and work ethic, but his ability to improvise, perhaps the only thing to carry Luck through a 16-game season as a rookie.
Hamilton talked about limiting mistakes, sure to be a focal point given Luck's AFC-worst 18 INTs.
Of course, there was some lip service, too.
Hamilton said he liked the pieces he had up front, and continuing to develop continuity will be critical. I can only hope that developing continuity means starting mostly fresh, because I know that at least 2-3 new starters along the offensive line are desperately needed for this offense to kick it up a notch in 2013.
There is no question Hamiltonn intends to run the football one way or another. He stressed the importance of balance (what offensive coach doesn’t?), which will create a lot of the opportunities to drive the ball downfield.
If you are like me, you loved watching Luck operate in Arians’ offense because, well, everyone likes the long ball. It’s too soon to say if the Colts will miss Arians. But I no longer believe it is too soon to say that Hamilton’s offense, with this stable of playmakers, will continue to bring plenty of excitement to the table in 2013 and beyond.