The NFL conspiracy report: Week 4 Le’Veon Bell Customized Indianapolis Colts Jerseys , saving himself for the Colts at Chris Ballard’s request If you were looking for in depth film breakdown, or one of my opponent scouting reports, or even a Colts-centric article, conspiracy report where I, Chris Shepherd, will examine nefarious plots around the league and expose them for what they are. Now sure, I won’t be able to provide you any “proof” and no I don’t have any sources (that you know of). What follows should be treated purely as entertainment that include plausible (and not so plausible) scenarios that no one employed by NFL teams would ever admit to, I accept no responsibility for anything you do with the information I’m about to give you. In fact I accept no responsibility for anything you’re about to read, at all.In this week four expos of NFL conspiratorial glory we’re going to take a look at how Le’Veon Bell is saving himself for the Colts and the evidence that points to Chris Ballard asking him to do so. Theory: Chris Ballard is working with Le’Veon Bell to bring the elite running back to the ColtsThis is a theory less about the why either man would do it and more about how they’ve done it and the evidence that supports it. What if I told you everything you think you know about what Chris Ballard is looking for in a free agent is wrong? What if I told you Chris Ballard is planning on opening Jim Irsay’s checkbook in a big way in 2019? What if I told you that Chris Ballard has been preparing us all for Le’veon Bell’s eventual arrival? By now most of us probably think we understand how Chris Ballard is going to treat free agency: spend little, give no guaranteed money and build through the draft. That’s what I have assumed too. The thing that I like most about Chris Ballard is the fact that if you actually listen to what he says and you read between the lines, just a little, he’s going to tell you what he’s planning on doing. Until now we’ve heard Ballard talk often about building through the draft and spending in ways that make sense but what Chris Ballard said starting at the 13:00 minute mark in this interview with Pat McAfee is interesting. When asked if he would ever bring in big name free agents if they fit the system and culture:Ballard goes on a lot of tangents, but there are a lot of nuggets in here. First he talks a lot about building culture, directly following this answer Ballard and Reich discuss how they plan to have a tough team and how they plan to have that. Staring down week four it seemspretty obvious they’ve gone out and added guys who exemplify that culture starting with this guy:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY SportsSo the Colts have begun to build the culture they’re after, they have the guys in the locker room that are beginning to guide the locker room in that direction. So what does that say about about what Ballard said about bringing in free agents? It says that while the team wasn’t ready to absorb those personalities this year with a team full of young guys and a locker room culture that needed to be built, it says that the team will be ready to add those big free agents very soon. So how do we get to Le’Veon Bell? Well that’s really simple:Le’Veon Bell is telling us he wants to play for the Colts and it makes sense, he would upgrade the running back position, he would get to play with a good quarterback and the Colts have a ton of cap space. But if that’s all he’s looking for why isn’t he commenting on the Jets, Texans, Browns or 49ers Instagram posts? All of these teams have promising young quarterbacks, Bell would be an upgrade and the 49ers are the only team who will have less than $85 million in open cap space heading into 2019 and the 9ers will still have $69 million. Yes, the Colts have the most cap space but any of those teams could sign him and fit that criteria, yet he’s focused on the Colts, why? Because Chris Ballard has clearly informed Bell of his intention to sign him in the off season. Le’Veon Bell told all of his teammates leading up to the season that he would be back with the team before week one, so when he didn’t make good on his word his teammates were naturally upset. So what changed for Bell? Why would he tell everyone one thing and then do another? What if a rival company reached out to you and promised to make you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams as long a you figured out a way to call in sick for the rest of the year and come in fresh and ready in the spring? Would you do it? Yeah, I would too. Seems like a win, win. Sure, Le’Veon probably knew that the Steelers were going to run him into the ground this year but unless he had some kind of assurance from someone www.authenticsindianapoliscolts.com , pulling this move, one that makes him look like a bad teammate could mean he could be forced to take a contract much smaller than the one the Steelers would have offered.Instead it makes far more sense that somehow, someway Chris Ballard sat back and looked at his team and he liked what was developing in the locker room. He liked what he saw from his coaches. He liked the youth and the atmosphere that has been created on West 56th street. He sat back and looked at what he has created this far and realized that he was a few play makers short of a championship caliber team. He realized this and then he realized if he could get one of those play makers in the upcoming free agency period and add two or three more with the three picks the Colts will have in the first two rounds of the 2019 draft, if he could do that, the Colts are instant contenders. We know Chris Ballard always has a plan, he’s talked about his binders quite a bit actually. I think it’s obvious that Chis Ballard opened up his 2019 free agency binder and on the first page is this man’s face:Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesIf you’re wondering about possible issues with the NFL’s tampering rules, oh grow up! It’s simple, Ballard just has to mention to his agent (Bob LaMonte) how he wants to pay Bell an obscene amount of money in 2019 as long as Bell sits the year out so he can give the Colts everything he’s got and Ballard’s agent calls up Bell’s agent (Adisa Bakari) and tells him a “funny story” he heard about his client that day. One thing leads to another and Le’Veon Bell is making googly eyes at every single Instagram post the Indianapolis Colts put up. Oh and trades? Don’t worry about a trade, Bell would have to agree to a contract and I’m sure Bakari could just give LaMonte a call and the two old friends could swap stories until Bell is convinced he just isn’t going to play this year. Ladies and gentlemen the starting running back for the 2019 Indianapolis Colts will be Le’Veon Bell, just as Chis Ballard planned it. *Once again, please note this article is purely meant for entertainment and the conversation it can create. Chris Shepherd may or may not actually believe anything above. By looking at current events through alternative viewpoints we hope to come away with a better understanding of what we’re seeing by considering something we’ve never considered. Worst case? We have a lot of fun with conspiracy theories and turn on old episodes of the X-Files while wearing our tin-foil hats.Links to the previous weeks conspiracies:Week 3: Roger GoodellWeek 2: Jon GrudenWeek 1: Colts DefenseIs Andrew Luck’s statistical fall a true narrative of his current ability? There are a lot of opinions right now in regards to the Indianapolis Colts franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck. Most of the media — and now a healthy dose of Colts fans as well — are questioning the strength of the passer’s surgically repaired right shoulder.The entrance of Jacoby Brissett to throw the Hail Mary in the waning moments of the Colts’ Week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles only made the conversation more unbearable. And now, most are left wondering why Luck and this offense appear to be less efficient and more of an issue than the team’s defense, which was supposed to be the unit that would take time to mesh.Most might not be, but it seems as if a great deal of Colts fans are forgetting one of the most obvious reasons they feel they’re seeing a lack of aggression in Luck and the offense. First, head coach Frank Reich mentioned that his system would see to it that Luck was able to get the ball out of his hands quickly. He also suggested that this offense would be aggressive, multiple, and would attempt to eat up big chunks of yardage as well. It’s fair that these two statements from the rookie head coach might be where the disconnect lies.Of course there are additional circumstances: Anthony Castonzo has been sidelined, the right tackle position has been a bit of a turnstile already in this young season, and there’s a real lack of punch from the running game so far. Reich did touch on some of this yesterday, and here’s what he had to say during availability.About Andrew Luck receiving the balance of praise/blame —And about the optics of appearing to ‘check-down’ so often —I took the liberty of eliminating some of the redundancy in those statements, but that’s the meat and potatoes of those quotes. And Reich is correct, you can remember some of the plays he’s refering to, and thinking to yourself “yep, that was pretty obviously supposed to go deep and it didn’t pan out.”On the other hand, we are also seeing Luck make plenty of mistakes that a quarterback with that mind and so physically gifted such as him should not be making. But, a few other things remain absolutely true regardless of whether or not we want to believe them. Luck isn’t going downfield often, he’s not putting much ‘stank’ on passes that truly need it (this is not a new issue Indianapolis Colts T-Shirt , however), and the Colts’ offense is nowhere near where it needs to be if the Colts are going to make any noise this year.If the Colts have any aspirations of a postseason berth, something is going to have to give. Luck has been sacked 5 times in three games, but has still taken 19 QB hits (19th). Should Reich/Luck sacrifice a sack or two more than they’re allowing per game right now in order to attack the opposing defenses a bit more? I think it’s a reasonable question, but would the payoff truly net more touchdowns? I would think that it would, but I don’t truly know if that’d be the case or not.The one thing that we must keep in mind right now is that we know what Andrew Luck brings to the table. He’s an amazing talent who hovers around 12 yards per completion for his career, has averaged about 4,300 passing yards when he’s played at least 15 games, has led the league in touchdown passes, and has the ability to be a clear top-5 passer in the league.As much as some of what Luck does occasionally aggravates me, I can’t — even for a second — accept that he no longer possesses the ability to be the most deadly quarterback in the league. At any rate, let’s look at the general statistics for Luck and sort of cross-reference them with NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats just for the fun of it.We often use yards per attempt or yards per completion to rationalize a common passing narrative, and sometimes to debunk it. Now, though, there are so many different stats that we can look to in order to attempt to shape our respective thoughts on a matter such as this.Here we’ll look at Next Gen Stats (their glossary), and Luck’s general stats for a bit of clarity. Then again, maybe it’ll just muddy the waters for some. Anyhow, here we go.Luck’s Next Gen StatsTime to throw: 2.52 seconds (7th fastest)Average intended air yards: 5.5 AYs (34th of 35)Aggressiveness percentage: 16.95 (14th)Air yards to sticks: - 2.1 yards (33rd)Expected completion percentage: 67.8% (comp% = 68.5%)Personally, from this group of stats, I get that Luck has indeed been getting the ball out quickly — mostly by design of course — which is a good thing if you’re on board with the selection of Quenton Nelson, keeping the opposing pass rush under control, and are in favor of Luck taking what the defense gives him on early downs, thus, getting into manageable third down situations more regularly. On the other hand, we can’t presuppose anything about him getting ‘better’ protection from this stat. Luck has been hit 19 times, which seems to counter that argument.Additionally, we’re seeing that Luck isn’t going down field hardly at all (intended Air Yards), he’s not attacking the first down marker with any regularity (Air Yards to Sticks) and there is a reliance on an underachieving unit of receivers to gain an unrealistic amount of yards after the catch to keep this offense competitive and on the field.We also find that Luck is indeed more quantifiably accurate Indianapolis Colts Hats , and isn’t a victim of too many drops — don’t watch the Eagles game — or having a large number of accurate balls being knocked away by defenders. However, his aggressiveness percentage may be, in fact, skewed due to the receivers not getting separation early on in their routes. They’re being seen, or deemed aggressive, but it’s more likely a combination of a lack of receiver talent and some bad throws mixed in there.General Stats:Completion rate: 68.5% (10th)Pass yards: 662 yards (23rd)TD percentage: 4% (21st)INT percentage: 2.4% (T-17th)Yards per attempt: 5.3 yards (31st)Adjusted yards gained per attempt: 5.1 yards (29th)Yards per completion: 7.8 yards (32nd)Pass yards per game: 220.7 yards (24th)Net yards gained per attempt: 4.83 yards (28th)Adjusted net yards per attempt: 4.56 yards (28th)I can’t say that I expected there to be an AH HAH! moment in here somewhere between all of these numbers, but the general side of the statistical game looks even worse to me. Basically, it just confirms that Luck is checking down a lot, the receivers aren’t doing much after the catch, and that he’s probably thrown more interceptions than he should for running such a ‘conservative’ passing game.The yardage monster that Luck is, is not putting up those numbers this year, his touchdown numbers are on the down side of average thus far, but hey, he’s been really accurate up to this point. I know I tend to put a bit of a condescending tone to this, but the numbers are what they are, and the injury issues with the team, the offensive system, the talent level and everything else you want to add to it are all part of the formula.For all of the negative that this puts forward, I do actually believe that Reich and Luck will work together with the offensive line, receivers and running backs coaches to improve their offensive game plan. Attempting to limit Luck’s hits, get the running game going, lighting a fire under the receiver room and STILL trying to get the offense to third-and-manageable at a high rate is going to be a hard trick to pull off. But, we may at least start to see bits and pieces of alterations to the game plan as the weeks go by. Guys will get more comfortable up front, receivers more adept at getting open earlier in their routes and hopefully the running game will begin to take some of the pressure off. I think this is a reasonable assumption for the progression of Reich’s plan for the season, and I believe the Colts will need it in the back half of the season.