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Getty An NFL analyst is hyping up Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts.

Offseason hype means nothing in the NFL, but it’s not really bad to have it.

The Indianapolis Colts received plenty of hype from NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network on NFL Total Access on August 4. Specifically, Jeremiah praised the Colts “up the middle” on both sides of the ball.

“When you look at this team up the middle, you can put them up against anybody from offense to defense right through the guts of your team.”

"When you look at this team up the middle you can put them up against anybody [in the NFL] from offense to defense."@MoveTheSticks breaks down the key pieces for the @Colts in 2022 ???? pic.twitter.com/KtaZewKl28

— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) August 4, 2022

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Colts More Than Just the Addition of Matt Ryan

Indianapolis improved behind center with the arrival of the 2016 MVP winner. The NFL is a quarterback driven league, so if the Colts do well, Matt Ryan will likely dominate the headlines.

But Ryan is set up for success in Indianapolis because he has a lot more offensive help than what he had the last couple years with the Atlanta Falcons. Jeremiah implied that most of that help will come from center and running back.

So, the arrival of Ryan not only solidifies quarterback for the Colts, but the direct middle of their offense.

“Everybody is going to be talking about Matt Ryan and that addition,” Jeremiah said on NFL Total Access. “But when you think about championship teams, in any sport, building up the middle, you put him in at quarterback, you’ve got Ryan Kelly, who’s one of the best centers in football. You’ve got Jonathan Taylor, the best running back in football, I don’t think anyone would argue that right now with what we saw last year.”

Taylor led the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on his way to first-team All Pro last season. Ryan may not be his former MVP self anymore, but he’s never had the luxury of playing on an offense that features a rushing champion.

Strength of the Colts Defense

In the same NFL Total Access segment, Jeremiah noted that the Indianapolis defense is also strongest “up the middle.”

“Shaq Leonard is as good as inside linebacker in football,” he said. “You’ve got DeForest Buckner at defensive tackle [too].”

Not to dispute Jeremiah, but the biggest difference with the Colts defense and offense is the team’s defense also has a lot of playmakers on the outside.

Other than Ryan, Indianapolis’ two biggest offseason additions were edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Stephen Gilmore. Together, they should help the Colts post more than 33 sacks as they did last year, which was 25th in the league.

Ngakoue has recorded at least 8.0 sacks in all six of his NFL seasons. In 2021, he registered 10.0 sacks. No Colts player had more than 7.0 sacks last year.

As the former Defensive Player of the Year Award winner, Gilmore should lock down the outside. That could create even more pressure on the quarterback and takeaways.

Slot cornerback Kenny Moore II is also a playmaker for the Colts defense. He received praise this offseason as one of, if not the best slot cornerback in the NFL.

Returning to Jeremiah’s “up the middle” theme, though, rookie safety Nick Cross is emerging as a quality player. He’s looked impressive at training camp as the Colts are searching to replace recently retired Khari Willis.

The Colts defense has a chance to dominate at all levels in 2022. But overall, the team’s “up the middle” strength makes Indianapolis a contender in the AFC.

News Source: Heavy.com

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Bulls Offseason Addition a Home Run Says Analyst

Getty Arturas Karnisovas watches as players warm up prior to the game

The Chicago Bulls hit a “home run” this offseason with the signing of Goran Dragic. The Bulls went into the offseason with a defined goal of maintaining roster continuity after two years of heavy roster turnover. They accomplished that goal by returning nine of their top-10 leaders in total minutes from last season as well as Patrick Williams whom they hope will make more than 17 appearances in 2023.

Dragic’s minutes were a hot-button issue when he first signed. Reports that he was expecting upwards of 20 minutes were based on rough translations and met with a mixture of backlash over what he has left and what it meant for injured point guard Lonzo Ball.

Ball’s health is the Bulls’ biggest remaining question mark.

But Dragic’s role could turn into a veritable boon for the Bulls regardless of how many minutes the veteran winds up playing next season.

Goran Dragic a Home Run

During the August 16 episode of the “Hardwood Knocks” podcast, hosts Dan Favale and Grant Huges graded the Bulls’ offseason. They gave them a “B-minus” and a “B”, respectively. But Favale pointed to Dragic, in particular, to talk about how sneaky of an add he was.

“I think the Goran Dragic signing was probably a home run. This is…someone who can kind of still play and put the ball on the floor. And I’m just surprised it took more to get Andre Drummond or even Derrick Jones Jr. I know Dragic is older.”

Perhaps for Dragic, age is truly nothing but a number.

Give us overtime, our captain will give you this [email protected][email protected] @IFeelSloveniaSi pic.twitter.com/9uR2UuHGiC

— Košarkarska zveza SIovenije (@kzs_si) August 12, 2022

Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports said Dragic could have a “legitimate impact” next season and much of it, to Favale’s point, has to do with what he was still able to do when on the court.

“Dragic, 36, is clearly in the twilight of his career, but he still has a little bit left in the tank, as he showed with the Nets last season. In 16 regular-season games with Brooklyn at the end of the season, Dragic averaged 7.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game — solid production for a backup.”

Stats can certainly be deceiving.

During the regular season with a minus-1.4 net rating, per Cleaning the Glass. But Dragic turned it around in the postseason with a plus-2.4 net rating, a 3.4-point swing. But Dragic’s greatest and most lasting impact might not come on the floor.

Dragic in Bulls Locker Room

During the August 11 episode of the “Bulls Talk Podcast”, former Bulls player-turned-analyst Kendall Gill joined host Rob Schaefer and had a lot to say about the other way Dragic’s signing is a big deal.

“Another All-Star, former All-Star. Proven. I think that he’s, sort of, like an insurance policy just in case we have another rash of injuries or COVID protocols. You know, we had it with Lonzo Ball. We had it with Zach LaVine. Yeah, we got some young guys. But I don’t think those guys are ready to play significant, quality, meaningful minutes in the playoffs. And I think that’s sort of probably the thinking that Goran Dragic can fill that void just in case that happens again.”

Dragic’s age could also be a gift of sorts.

The Bulls got 76 games combined out of Ball and backup Alex Caruso. That eventually led to rookie Ayo Dosunmu into the starting lineup for 40 games.

Schaefer pointed out that Dragic is a true point guard unlike what the Bulls tried to operate with last season without Ball. He added that Dragic’s reputation as a locker room presence precedes him.

Luka Doncic took the mic after Slovenia’s 97-69 win over Croatia to lead an MVP chant for Goran Dragic’s last national team home game.

Luka’s final line: 21 pts, 10 a, 8 reb, 2 steals in 31 mins pic.twitter.com/YkX6tSfweg

— Callie Caplan (@CallieCaplan) June 30, 2022

 

The Bulls have a clear delineation between the veteran stars at the top of the roster and the readiness of its younger players such as Dosunmu, a second-team All-Rookie selection.

“Guys like that can always help young guys develop,” said Gill, “No matter how old a guy is, they’re going to watch him. If I’m Ayo [Dosunmu], I’m watching how he runs the basketball team. How a veteran does it. How he approaches the game. Sometimes you can pick up on all of the different nuances that they do defensively, offensively, things like that. That’s why it’s always valuable to have a guy around like that.”

Bulls Built Roster Depth

The common refrain from Bulls fans whenever anyone under 6-foot-7 gets signed – which has been often – is that the Bulls do not need another guard. They already have the likes of Dosunmu and Coby White as well as LaVine and rookie Dalen Terry.

There is also a sizeable number of pundits who believe that the 14-year veteran is washed.

The Dragon is a Bull ???? @Goran_Dragic pic.twitter.com/UqPIw0KS66

— Chicago Bulls (Benny's Burner) (@chicagobulls) August 3, 2022

But if he can show the younger players the way, much like we have seen from DeMar DeRozan with Dosunmu and Patrick Williams, then his addition will be a win for this team. Even if the payoff isn’t from Dragic himself, it could very well show up on the court nightly. He could prove to be another steal for the Bulls at a price tag of $2.9 million for one year.

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