Colts new coach eager to reunite with Luck

Colts new coach eager to reunite with Luck

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Pep Hamilton already knows what he wants to do with the Indianapolis Colts offense.

He'll build around Andrew Luck, take advantage of all that young talent in Indy and do everything he can to keep Luck out of harm's way. He can't wait to get going.

Just minutes after the Colts made Hamilton's hiring official Saturday afternoon, the former Stanford offensive coordinator got on a conference call with local reporters and started outlining the plans he has for a team that went from 2-14 to 11-5 in less than 12 months.

``It will be a variation of it,'' Hamilton said when asked about bringing the West Coast offense to Indy. ``Short passing game, high completion rate. But I enjoy watching our guys coming off the ball and trying to knock the opponent back. I'm a big believer in the power-running game, I believe that opens it up for your passing game. I want to be flexible schematically in that we find ways to get the ball into playmakers' hands.''

This is no rebuilding project now.

In 2012, Luck set NFL rookie records for attempts and yards passing, fell just short of breaking the NFL's rookie marks for completions and TD passes, tied the league's single-season record for most winning drives in the fourth quarter (seven) and produced a league-high nine wins in one-possession games. Plus, the Colts had more combined yards rushing and receiving by rookies than any team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

They also have a Pro Bowl receiver in Reggie Wayne.

Hamilton doesn't want to break all of that up.

But those who know him best do expect changes. Under Bruce Arians, the Colts took more chances down the field than just about any team in football. Hamilton may not be as likely to do that, though he did acknowledge he wants to take ``shots'' down the field.

Other tinkering with the Indy's new offense may be more subtle.

``I would say, first and foremost, every time you bring in a new offense, you have a new language,'' tight end Coby Fleener said. ``Fortunately, Andrew, I and Griff Whalen have been in that offense so we can kind of tutor guys on that. I'm not sure yet how much we'll be running from last year.''

Fleener, Luck and Whalen were all Colts rookies last season after playing at Stanford, where Hamilton ran the offense each of the past two seasons. Whalen spent the season on injured reserve.

Though Luck repeatedly said he was hoping Arians would stay, having Hamilton running the offense may turn out to be the next best thing.

``First of all, I'm very happy for Coach Arians and I wish him nothing but the best in Arizona. I really enjoyed working with him this season, and I'm very thankful for all of his guidance,'' Luck said in a statement released by the team. ``I'm thrilled to be able to reunite with Coach Pep here in Indianapolis. He was a tremendous mentor of mine at Stanford and he is going to have our offense playing at a high, energetic level.''

Hamilton joined Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford in 2010 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011 when Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers and David Shaw took over as Stanford's head coach.

Stanford is one of only three schools - Oregon and Wisconsin being the others - that earned BCS bowl berths the past three seasons. The Cardinal routed Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl two years ago and lost in overtime to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl in Luck's finale. The Cardinal have won at least 11 games each of the past three years after doing that previously only three times in school history (1992, 1940 and 1926).

Hamilton said he spent four hours interviewing for Oregon's head coaching job this week, too.

So Colts coach Chuck Pagano wasted little time determining who would replace Arians, who took the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job Thursday.

``He's had success everywhere he's been and his familiarity with guys like Andrew and Coby will make him a great fit for our team,'' Pagano said. ``I can't wait to start working with him as we get ready for next year.''

But NFL rules will prohibit how much work Hamilton can do with Luck, Fleener and the rest of the offense until offseason workouts begin in the spring.

For Hamilton, the work can't begin soon enough.

``I spoke with him (Luck) this morning. He's excited,'' Hamilton said. ``I'm very excited to have an opportunity to work with Andrew again, and I can't wait to get started.''


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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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