Posted by: Bruce Allen | December 11, 2017

Snippet: On Naming Storms

Back in the olden days, the only storms that earned names were hurricanes, and they were always women’s names. That, in itself, is fodder for a separate rant. Now that we’re fully gender-equalized in the naming of storms, and now that we assign anything remotely resembling a storm a name (Tropical Depression Liziqua), and given our aversion to repeating ourselves–Winter Storm Benji just blew through New England–we are at risk of trivializing tragic occurrences for individuals caught in one of these poorly-named natural disasters.

Readers will forgive me for this, but it’s the reason I write this stuff down.

This trend is likely to produce heartbreaking quotes like these in local newspapers:

“Yep, her and her brothers and alla them got swept out by Cadwallader.”

“Back in ought ’20 about 25 people froze to death during Bubbles.”

“My husband fell off the roof shoveling snow after Zyprexia.”

“During Mudslide Slim the entire cul-de-sac just fell onto the beach.”

“It was Hurricane Nimrod that changed our lives forever.”

We should direct The People in Charge of this stuff at NOAA to address this issue and return to the practice of assigning regular old names to these storms, especially avoiding those associated with strippers, dogs and cats. No one wants to write notes to the deceased’s friends advising them that Aunt Ellen was a victim of Benji, or Trixie, or Fluffy.

Just sayin’.

cropped-reflections-by-garry.jpg

 

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Posted by: Bruce Allen | November 26, 2017

Snippet: Self-Driving Cars Making Moral Decisions

So here’s the article in USA Today which sparked this snippet.  It asserts that, in the event of unavoidable accidents, self-driving cars will be programmed to make instantaneous moral decisions as to who survives a crash and who doesn’t.

Granted, the occasions in which this occurs–a kid darting out from between cars, a school bus suddenly veering into your lane–are rare, but they are real. Up until now, humans have dealt with them when they do occur, usually poorly. I think it’s safe to say, however, that in the vast majority of human-driven car accidents, the driver’s instinctive reaction is to save himself. Self-preservation, after all, sits at the top of everyone’s subconscious to-do list.

The manufacturers engaged in making this a full-fledged industry are being roundly criticized for programming their cars to act the same way human do, i.e., to protect the driver at the expense of the unexpected child or bus. Or, one supposes, passenger.

Regardless of whether it’s a child or a bus, the lawsuit(s) emerging from such an accident would be monumental. If Daimler Benz, for example, were found liable for programming a car to kill a child, as the headlines would scream, it could put the entire industry at risk.

Personally, I’ve had enough computer issues during my life to pretty much swear off the purchase of a self-driving car if at all possible. If I’m going to be involved in an automobile accident, I would strongly prefer it be caused by “human error,” i.e., mine, than by “computer error.” I don’t want to get t-boned by some moron texting his girlfriend, and I don’t want to go hurtling over a cliff because the computer driving my car hiccupped when I hit a pothole. Just sayin’.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | November 22, 2017

Snippet: ACA Dismemberment

© Snippets by Bruce Allen

The Republicans and the Individual Mandate. Headline:

Murkowski caves

Photo courtesy Huffington Post

Lisa Murkowski Says She’s OK With Killing The Health Insurance Mandate
Projections suggest millions will lose coverage; the Alaska senator says she simply wants to allow choice.                                            

The argument being thrown around is mis-framed. The Individual Mandate controversy needs to be broken down into two groups–those who can’t afford it (but may desperately want it), and those who can but who choose not to purchase health insurance. It’s this second group to whom the Republicans are appealing, and the reason it’s so maddening and hypocritical is because the sentence itself has been truncated. The sentence should read: “… and those who can but who choose not to purchase health insurance, preferring instead to stick emergency rooms and hospitals with unpaid bills that ultimately get paid by taxpayers, one way or another.”

The miscreants who once thought of themselves as the party of Rugged Individualists are now basing their health plan on the following proposition: “Say, pal, would you rather have healthcare that YOU have to pay for, or healthcare that SOMEBODY ELSE has to pay for that’s free to you?  Oh, and, by the way, our plan will save you even more money by stiffing those poor schmucks that can’t afford insurance. When the bills come due and the Federal deficit expands, we’ll just blame Obama. Don’t be a sucker. What’ll it be?”

I refuse not to be offended by this type of politics.

 

Posted by: Bruce Allen | November 19, 2017

Snippet: FAMU Kerfluffle

Snippet1

Clearly, Rep. Alexander must have been down for $1500 on FAMU +4. With the vig, the coach’s decisions cost him, personally, $1650. “It is extremely rare that” FAMU gets points playing at home, which only added to Alexander’s rage.

Wood screwed up his Lock of the Week, likely forcing him to once again dip into campaign funds. THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND, MAN.

One last thing.  Camping World Stadium?

© Snippets by Bruce Allen. All rights reserved, whatever that means.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Allen | August 20, 2017

Republicans in a Lather

Up&down chart-Main© Bruce Allen   August 20, 2017

Most Republicans have this notion that everything political in the U.S. will be fine once the party unites under the banner of “cutting middle-class taxes and improving the economy,” with Trump leading the way.  They enjoy majorities in both houses of Congress, most of the governorships, most state legislatures, with voting districts they’ve gerrymandered to guarantee red ownership for a decade, etc.  Life, for Republicans, is, in general, very good. 

Except for the lunatic in the White House.  More about him later. 

The problem with the initial premise is that the economy is about as “improved” as it’s going to get.  For the working class of Americans lacking education and/or transferable skills, add the word “ever” to the previous sentence.  Unemployment, or at least the government’s facsimile thereof, stands at under 4.5%, 10% below what economists consider “full employment,” which is usually assumed to be 5%. Inflation is under 2%, which has been the target used by the Federal Reserve for decades.  The economy is growing slowly. A combination of at least three factors suggests that measured unemployment is likely to go up in the years to come. 

(Those red-eyed folks comprising the Trump “core” need those jobs he promised on the campaign trail.  Their communities need those jobs.  Those jobs are going to become more scarce.) 

1.   A rapidly mechanizing workplace, more robotics, more machines, with people only needed to keep them running and cleaned-up after. 7.3 million jobs have been lost in the US in the past decade due to this alone.

2.   Corporate capitalism, which obliges company operators to maximize shareholder value and returns, seeking the lowest costs of production, which in turn supports

3.   Globalization which, despite the bellowing emanating from the White House, continues apace, with only economy-hurting tariffs and trade wars standing in its way. 

Millions of high quality, high-paying jobs go wanting every day in this country for lack of applicants qualified to fill them.  With current immigration policies, crops are rotting in fields owing to there being no one to pick them. There is no priority to deal with massive job re-training or any coherent immigration policy to help the agricultural sector. The party in charge needs to own these issues. 

This misplaced hope that “fixing” the economy through conventional means will work could easily backfire on Republicans, who will have to account for rapidly-growing Federal deficits to enact their agenda.  Tax reform, their version of it anyway, will clearly add to the deficit. Any infrastructure “program” worthy of receiving a name will add to the deficit, at least in the short-term. Healthcare?  Ditto. And the fascinating part is that The Freedom Caucus is ready, willing, and able to drive the economy over the cliff of government shutdowns and debt defaults in order to have these things their way, which is to say, wrong. 

Under Trump, the dismantling of the Federal machine taking place before our eyes guarantees that “externalities” such as pollution of our air and water will increase over time. It is likely that death rates among various populations will grow over time as these externalities manifest themselves in the declining health of vulnerable people. 

In short, the Republicans don’t really have an answer, either to the economy or the 800-pound gorilla in the White House. They are sufficiently disunited to be unable to wield their considerable power effectively. They are inextricably tied to this unfit President due to their spineless refusal to condemn his intellectual and moral vacuity. 

Married to the President, they are like the wives of so many husbands who complain they can’t live with them and can’t live without them. Congressional Republicans can’t afford, politically, to go up against the “Trump core” and can’t afford, morally, to not.  Rock—Congressional Republicans—Hard place. 

If, as seems likely, the wheels of the economy begin to rattle and grind in the next year, the mid-term elections hold promise for Democrats.  As the out-of-power party in Washington, it is up to them to come up with a coherent platform stating what they stand for.  It can be well to the left of what we have seen from them over the past decade.

If voters in the 2018 mid-terms and 2020 Presidential elections are on the rebound from a period of extended “losing,” they could be turned around by a platform built around producing a healthy, stronger, modern American workforce, more able to compete in the world economy without tariffs, government protection or subsidies, with health insurance for all, and without Betsy DeVos. 

For those concerned about Federal debt and deficits, it should be acknowledged that The World regards U.S. debt as virtually bullet-proof, with rates on 10 year Treasury bonds under 3%.  These rates are climbing, but the forces pushing them are weak. Most of them are due to uncertainty, which markets loathe and which comes from the White House by the ton.  Once there is a new, more predictable occupant at 1600, much of that uncertainty will vanish. The recent fall in the dollar likewise. 

The field is set for the Democrats.  Most 2018 Federal and state elections will feature Republican incumbents who have more to lose than challengers.  The opposition is in disarray. The economy is beginning to tilt against the incumbents at a bad time.  If Democrats cannot take advantage of these factors in 2018 and again in 2020 they are a sorry lot.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | March 10, 2017

Ryancare Will Help Democrats

The Hail Mary being undertaken by Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress in a political sprint to crush Obamacare is a longshot of the highest order.  Despite the numbers, the industry, AARP, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, Republican governors and senators, and a majority of Americans opposing them, their motto is clearly “Damn the torpedoes.”  Their maybe 2% chance of success could mean the end of the Democratic party for the foreseeable future.  The 98% likelihood that they will fail could mean the opposite.

The fractures within the Republican party are obvious and growing.  The 40 person Conservative Caucus, the last remaining vestiges of the Tea Party, hates the bill. Democrats, mostly by reflex, hate the bill.  Himself has not a clue what’s even in it.  As has been observed elsewhere, the only chance the bill has of becoming law is speed, to jam it through both houses using whatever political chicanery is available (Ryan and McConnell have that covered) and get it signed before the opposition gets fully organized.  And, unfortunately, before the CBO has had a shot at the numbers.  With no idea whatsoever of the costs involved, either in human or financial terms.

Listening to Paul Ryan explain the plan yesterday, and having read extensively the SWAG (Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess) numbers being thrown around, my sense is that the bill, in anything resembling its current form, will result in the following:

  • ten million families losing health insurance in the first year
  •  insurance companies running for the doors.
  • premium increases of 30-200% over the already-increased rates of 2017.
  • “tax credits,” the tool being used to “level the playing field,” becoming the most hated term in Trump’s America, as his base will find them completely insufficient to offset the increases in premium arising from 1) uncertainty, 2) pre-existings, and 3) the lack of a mechanism to get young, healthy people enrolled to offset the costs of the basketcases.
  • Those poor unfortunates who find themselves relegated to the “state pool” will quickly discover the nightmare of life therein.  Mr. Ryan’s rosy images aside, the state pool is to health insurance what a rusted out 1976 Yugo is to your car.
  • While the base watches their healthcare system, and health, deteriorate, they will have the added pleasure of learning about the tax windfall the law provides for the so-called 1%.
  • Medicaid getting shoved out onto the states to manage and, eventually, fund, at least in part.  Their share is likely to blossom over time.

In a worst case scenario, Congress repeals the ACA and fails to pass ANY replacement legislation.  This is where the wheels fall off.  This is the point at which a lot of older, poorer Americans will figure out that they’ve been played.  For Ryan and his lot, repeal without replacement is unacceptable.  Yet they appear to be headed exactly there.

Ryancare, as the new law is doomed to be called, could end up being exactly what the Democrats need to take back the Senate and even things up in the House in 2018.  Accordingly, the party may find itself heavily indebted to the recalcitrant Conservative Caucus.

The remnants of the Tea Party remind me of lemmings, joyfully leading their pack over the cliff to their guaranteed destruction.  In order to make a point.  As a liberal democrat, I gotta say I love these guys.  After all, they’re the only thing standing between us and a healthcare debacle, even if they’re doing so for the wrong reasons.

lemming cartoon

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Allen | January 6, 2017

“That government is best which governs least.” Hogwash.

Attributable at times to Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Napoleon’s valet, the quote has no identifiable father, for one obvious reason: It’s wrong.

According to the World Happiness Report—there is such a thing at the U.N.—happiness, like gross national product, can be (crudely) measured by survey.  Here is what the people in the number-crunching business had to say about their methodology:

“So how do the researchers come up with this list? The process is actually rather simple, as the Index’s website explains: “The rankings are based on answers to the main life evaluation question asked in the poll. This is called the Cantril ladder: it asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale.”

Simple enough.  Here are the top 17 happiest nations on Earth.

happiness-chart

We use percentage of GDP as a proxy for expenditures per capita, which figures are not readily available.  The U.S. and Brazil are the only “happy” countries among the 16 most heavily populated nations to make the list.

For the record, the least happy 10 countries (out of 53 measured) were:

10 least happiest.JPG

What are we to infer from all these numbers?  It seems fairly obvious that, in general, people living in smaller, colder countries are more likely to be happy than those living in large and/or tropical ones.  And, ignoring Timor-Leste and Eritria (too small, too much civil war), it would appear not to be a coincidence that of the 10 countries spending the greatest percentage of GDP on government services, six are found in the list of happiest countries.  The U.S. and Germany are the only countries on the happiness list that also appear on the list of top countries by military expenditures, where the U.S. spends more than the next eight countries combined.  Finally, we must confront the fact that, deducting defense expenditures from total government spending means the U.S. effectively spends even less per capita on “happiness” (i.e., health and welfare) than the happier countries on the list.

All of which is to say that the liberal worldview, so thoroughly embraced in the Scandinavian countries, with high tax rates and a comprehensive set of “free” government services, appears to make people happier than a more conservative approach that seeks to minimize expenditures on social welfare programs in order to fund what could be characterized as a grossly over-inflated defense budget.

Which is where we came in on this movie.  It is not true that that government which governs least governs best.  What appears to be true is that government which effectively secures the lives and wellbeing of its citizens governs best.  In the United States, the country that invented Rugged Individualism, the “don’t tread on me” spirit which turns sparsely populated western and Midwestern states red will resist government of any size, shape or flavor until the roads start falling to pieces and it takes 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive at one’s house, long after the heart attack victim has gone cold.

And so it’s true in America as it is across the globe.  People, and nations comprised of large numbers of them, can be counted on not to recognize which things lead to happiness and which things lead to deprivation and misery.  The “poverty amidst plenty” dichotomy growing worse in the United States each year, courtesy in large part to the Republican politicians on Capitol Hill, is obscene and needs, finally, to be addressed in a meaningful way.  For leadership on this issue, the only informed voice in Washington is that of Bernie Sanders.  “Republican leadership” has become an oxymoron.  According to most Republicans, who embrace the quote, government, by definition, is bad, and it is this warped perception from the right that is driving efforts to repeal Obamacare.  (I will resist the temptation to take this last argument to its “logical extreme,” which is that Republicans tend to believe that PEOPLE are bad.)

After eight years devoted to failing efforts to do so, the Republican party is finally in a position to repeal Obamacare.  They do not have the balls or brains it takes to draw up an improved replacement plan, leading me to believe they will take us through a healthcare crisis measured in years, to emerge with pretty much what we have now.  The 800-pound gorilla in the room, that no Republican wants to acknowledge, is the obvious solution for healthcare:  Medicare for everyone.  A single payer system that negotiates prices for durable and non-durable medical goods on behalf of the government payer and is operated by private insurance companies.  Universal medical coverage for every U.S. citizen.  No more senior citizens having to choose between medicine and food.  Higher taxes will be needed to pay for it, but the people living in the countries that do it this way seem not to mind.  The stock prices of the medical device and drug companies will decline.

As usual, the Republicans, including their plutocratic and incredibly unprepared President taking office on January 20, are hell-bent to proceed in exactly the wrong direction.  Lots of Trump voters, poor people in red states, will be paying the price.  With the Democratic party being leaderless and discredited, this is their saving grace:  The Republicans will be seen as running things badly, with an unstable president and a Congress generally loathed by most Americans.  Good luck with that.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | June 12, 2015

The 12 Types of Facebook “Likes”

Facebook-thumb-460x460

Regular Facebook users are aware of the importance of “likes” concerning their posts and the posts of friends.  In this brief treatise we will explore the various types of “likes” and the meaning or purpose behind each.

  1. The “Like” like. This is your basic garden-variety statement of appreciation for a post from a friend.  Straightforward, no hidden meaning.
  2. The “Obligatory” like. Used when a good friend posts something long and involved, or deeply personal.  Used when you don’t bother to read the post or follow the link, or are uncomfortable with the subject matter.
  3. The “Defensive” like. Used when you are indifferent to a post by a friend, but you don’t want them ignoring your future posts.  It’s not that you actually like the post; it’s more that you don’t want your future posts ignored or, worse yet, criticized for being insipid, wrong or politically unpalatable.
  4. The “Indifferent” like. I don’t really like it, nor do I really NOT like it.  In fact, I don’t really like YOU, nor do I really NOT like you.  The WTF like.
  5. The “Mercy” like. For those long, drawn-out posts about obscure, usually family or cat-related posts, which have drawn exactly zero likes in 24 hours.
  6. The “Dislike” like. FB has made the decision not to make a Dislike button available.  As a result, when your neighbor’s roof gets blown off or their child suffers a sprained ankle, you are reduced to just “liking” it.  As if.
  7. The “Quid Pro Quo” like. Similar to #3 above, used by prolific posters to inoculate themselves against being ignored by their hundreds of followers.  If I like one of Tony S’s posts, even though I loathe most of them, I may get an occasional like thrown my way, even though most of my posts cause him to gag in his echo chamber.
  8. The “Better Than Your Usual Drivel” like. Say your neighbor posts lots of stuff about kittens, or a friend from high school posts a thousand bowls of Pablum about God and how much he loves you.  One day they post a relatively funny video of a guy getting dragged across his front yard by his lawnmower.  This deserves a like.
  9. The “Sheer Weight of Posts” like. You’ve reluctantly friended someone you knew years ago who seems to do nothing all day but post stuff on Facebook, mostly widespread shares.  You should like every 50th one, just to let him or her know you’re still in the game.
  10. The “Pretty Sure My Friends are going to Hate Me” like. Your family tells you over and over that when you go political on FB it gives them hives, then someone posts a John Stewart or Paul Krugman clip that just rocks.  You go ahead and like it, adding an acute comment in the process, but must prepare for the slings and arrows from those near and dear who disapprove.
  11. The “Even Though 8,000 Other People Have Already Liked It” like.  Posts from huge pages like Elmore Leonard, The Christian Left, etc., which are more like web pages than FB posts, but are so good you can’t help but become #8,001.
  12. The “In the Mood to Like Everything” like.  When it’s late at night and you’ve been away from FB for a while, catching up on 500 posts, as midnight approaches you just go ahead and like everything, without even reading it, in order to avoid possibly hurting someone’s feelings, possibly a parent or child.  “‘Tis easier to like and not care than to care and not like.”

Please feel free to share other types I’ve missed, as there are probably dozens.  If you do, I promise to like them.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | April 30, 2015

The “Just War” and American Interventionism

This from Wikipedia:  The just war doctrine [of the Catholic Church – sometimes mistaken as a “just war theory” – found in the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2309,] lists four strict conditions for “legitimate defense by military force”:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated (the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition).

Since the United States has not been invaded in a meaningful way for over 200 years, the modern theory of the just war, as it relates to the USA, can only be examined in the context of American participation/intervention in overseas conflicts, most notably in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

NPR has been running a series of broadcasts recently looking back at Viet Nam.  In interviews with veterans of that war, two major themes emerge.

  • The people (Congress and the President) sending soldiers to fight and die were not the ones doing the fighting and dying. A disproportionate number of those on the ground were poor and black.  The majority of those sending them were wealthy and white.
  • One of the biggest problems we experienced in Viet Nam was that, having committed hundreds of thousands of troops, the U.S. never had a coherent exit strategy. Nixon’s “Peace with Honor” was advertising-speak for retreat, defeat and, finally, a panicky evacuation.

Thus, I would argue that the just war doctrine applied to foreign interventions should include a fifth element, namely:

  • there must be clearly-defined conditions when military efforts are no longer needed/wanted, and an articulate strategy for exiting the theatre when those conditions are achieved. 

All of which brings us to today.  I would argue that the Bush administration’s commitment of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2001 violated articles 3 and 4 of the just war doctrine, in addition to the proposed 5th article.  There was, at the time, no serious prospect of long term success.  The use of arms produced evils and disorders graver than the evil to have been eliminated.  And, there was no exit strategy for either incursion.  No serious discussion of the conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan can possibly conclude that either country is better off today than it was in 2001.  Moreover, these interventions have led, directly or indirectly, to the uprisings of the so-called Arab Winter, the birth of Al-Shabaab and ISIS, and the catastrophic conditions facing people in northern Africa and the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the war hawks in Congress have failed to learn anything from the three wars discussed above.  The constant refrain emanating from the halls of Congress, most discernibly the halls on the political right, goes something like this:  “Terrorist organizations in _________ are murdering civilians and fomenting civil war.  We, the United States, must commit ground troops to ________ in order to put a stop to these deplorable acts.”  Fill in the blanks as you wish:  Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Eritrea, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Syria, etc., etc.  In short, for many conservatives, a popular sense of common decency and American moralism dictate that we essentially invade much of the non-Western world.

The question, then, is how can anything that feels so right be so wrong?  Once again, though we are deeply offended and troubled by events in these places, committing U.S. ground troops to any of these areas would again violate the third, fourth and proposed fifth elements defining a just war.  Initiating an unjust war, whether we like it or not, constitutes aggression.  In most of these countries, American troops would be welcomed by the few and reviled by the many.  Terrorist propagandists would surely characterize such actions as illegal aggression by infidels, stoking the flames of discord and facilitating recruitment of new terrorists/freedom fighters to take the places of those martyred by the infidels.

The peoples in most of these regions have been engaged in religious wars and sectarian violence against one another for centuries.  As combatants coalesce into the frightening Al Qaedas and Al-Shabaabs of the world, the temptation on the part of American political administrations to intervene in the slaughter is virtually irresistible, especially on the political right.  Doing so, however, does not rise to the standards of “the just war,” becoming, instead, just war.  As distressed as we are by these events, it would be morally wrong to commit U.S. ground combat forces to these areas.

 

Posted by: Bruce Allen | December 4, 2014

Colts’ Running Game: Blow It Up

Colts linemenThree quarters of the way through the 2014 season, it’s time to get real about the Indianapolis Colts and the running game they will need, someday, to compete for a Super Bowl.

The Colts are, at this time, pinning their hopes on Boom Herron to carry them to the promised land.  Herron, who is the kind of back they need, is, in turn, one solid tackle away from a season-ending injury. Trent Richardson was a beast in college who lacks the body type to be successful in the NFL.  It has taken this long to discern this owing to a list of events, changes and excuses that go back to his rookie season with the Browns.  It is possible that Richardson could be successful with some teams–teams that actually create holes in the opponents’ defensive line–but his talents, such as they are, are mostly wasted with the Colts.  He is a great pass blocker and can catch the ball out of the backfield.  He just can’t convert on third and short, and with his build that should be virtually automatic.

The Colts’ running game relies, in large measure, on our offensive linemen going straight up against their guy and moving him off the line of scrimmage.  In Lucas Oil Stadium, that simply has never worked.  The Colts’ scheme, such as it is, requires extraordinary backs who can produce only mediocre results within a scheme that doesn’t work.  (In some other town, Edgerrin James would have accumulated half again as many yards with the same effort.)  Our offensive lines can pass block–sort of–but cannot run block in the way they are being coached.  Can’t, and never have been able to.  Again, as we enter The Luck Years, he makes a weak pass-blocking line look better than it is with a quick release, willingness to get hit, and running ability.Edgerrin James

Watch the New England TV broadcast again, and see the announcers using the Telestrator to show how the Patriots’ running game, relying on down blocking, with either a back or receiver coming across the formation to block, created huge lanes for the back, in our case some obscure rookie who set some kind of record simply following his blocking.  This whole diagonal scheme, compared to the Colts’  vertical approach, mano a mano, is easier on the linemen and the backs, and susceptible to the stretch play as well as play action.

The Colts need to re-examine their offensive line and their entire approach to running the ball.  Things would look better at this point had Vick Ballard not gone down for the second year in a row, a brutal indicator that he may never reach his potential with the Colts.  Bradshaw may be done.  Richardson can’t do it on this level.  Otherwise, there isn’t anyone.

The Colts need their center, #72, to become the talent the entire staff tell us he will be.  The guard situation is troubling, as we’ve devoted several high draft choices and trades that, at this point, haven’t worked out at all. (Grigson was an offensive guard; he should be better at identifying and signing guys at that position who can move their guy off the line of scrimmage. ) Costanzo is everything you could ask for at left tackle, while Cherilus has perhaps a few good years left.  Otherwise, the offensive line gets pushed around every week, and any running game at all is generally the result of heroic effort by Herron or Luck or a mistake by the defense.  Getting Allen #83 back will help the running game.

The Colts will win the South again this year, probably finishing at 11-5.  They will host a divisional game in week one of the playoffs that they are likely to lose, unless Herron and the offensive line are healthy and at full strength.  In high school we had a series of plays we called “crossbucks” which, theoretically only, would produce running lanes allowing the back to run against the grain, so to speak, and produce solid results.  The Colts are built to run such a series on second and third downs.  Even Richardson could probably give 5 yards a carry with such a scheme.

The Colts have other problems, notably their inability to stop the run against good teams.  It looks like they have the players to make plays, but they give up a lot of rushing yards and a lot of big plays.  Time of possession, for the defense, is an issue, as they rank next to last in red zone defense, permitting touchdowns at something like a 70% rate. They are tough on 3rd down.  Lots of defensive backs who are near plays but not necessarily breaking up plays. Nothing approaching a pass rush as in years past.  34 Sacks thus far in 2014 vs. 42 sacks 2013.      23rd in team defense in 2014 vs. 13th overall in 2013.  They are way easier to score on than they were in 2013.

The fact that Luck has more tools and is something of a budding genius does nothing to obscure the fact that the Colts are unable to reliably run the ball and have trouble stopping the run against good teams.  They have exactly the make-up of a team that wins its first playoff game at home and goes on the road in week two to cold weather and gets hammered, either in Denver or New England.

Choose your poison, or just win out and see what happens.  The set-up is the same as that very old joke that ends with the words, “Good.  But first, chi-chi.”  Beat one, and your reward is going on the road to play the other.  Teams that do that make it to the Super Bowl all the time.  Um, no.

The Colts need to get real about their running game and their play on defense when the opponent is running the ball.  That they have enough to win the division is obvious.  The challenge for the Colts is to demonstrate they have what it takes to go on the road in the winter and play at night in cold weather in the proverbial hostile environment.  With a running game that demands offensive lineman simply push their guy out of the way and run the ball and is delusional in its belief that it can succeed doing so.  Or that Herron will have a long shelf life if he’s earning 20 carries a game, starting in Cleveland.

After the season’s over, let Richardson choose his own team and make his own deal.  Get what you can in exchange.  He is a nice guy and deserves a chance to do well.  It was not a good fit for him here in Indianapolis, not his fault.  He does lots of other things well that don’t show up in the charts.  He will continue in the NFL, as his health is surprisingly good. Go with God.

The Colts and especially Grigson need to fix both lines and refine the way they attack the line of scrimmage on offense to succeed in cold weather.  They need to increase the pressure on opposing quarterbacks coming from the middle of the line of scrimmage at all times.  They need to allow the linebackers to play in the secondary more and rush the passer less.  They need to occupy the clock and move the sticks to succeed in cold weather.

They need to run the ball.  Other than Boom Herron, they have proven unable to run the ball.

Heading into the playoffs, the Colts have reason to celebrate and reason for concern.  They have one of the best quarterbacks in football whose career is still very much ascendant.  They have a growing number of offensive weapons.  They have enough of an offensive line to allow Luck to do much of what he does, but does not produce any significant rushing yards.  It is a team built to lose in the second round of the playoffs, despite Luck, despite having perhaps the top offense in the league.  They will run into a Pittsburgh or a Denver or a New England on the road and find themselves outgunned and out-schemed.  And, if somehow they should prevail in the second round, they would need to repeat the feat, on the road, to advance to the Super Bowl.  In the winter.  At night.  And on the road.

Gronk

 

 

 

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