2014 Season Previews
Andrew Luck is no Peyton Manning
Are we sure? I mean Holy Shit people- compare Manning’s Team vs Luck’s team unit by unit. There ain’t no Marvin Harrison on this team, there aint no Jeff Saturday on that line. Of Course, there ain’t no ring on that finger, yet. But what Luck has done is just amazing. The problem now is, that this year it’s expected the Colts will be as good. The Colts have to deal with PRESSURE for the first time in Luck’s young career, and soon the Salary Cap will loom, so how will the Colts look to survive and advance after 2 straight 11-5 seasons? They have advanced a round further in the playoffs every season under Luck, so it’s only one more step to the Big Game.
The Colts have a lot of problems on the offensive line, all in the middle. They have solid tackles, but I’m not a huge fan of either guards and the expected starting center Khaled Holmes is pretty much going to be a rookie this year. If Donald Thomas could be back 100%, that’s going to be a major improvement. For all the haterade that was sent Trent Richardson’s way- a lot of the blame goes on this line. Rookie Jake Mewhart was the top pick of Colts deep in round 2, and if he can get his 6’6 frame going from the inside, this could get interesting, and the running back excuses go away.
Luck went from 54 to 60% completion, and cut his interceptions in half, and many teams could live with a 23-9 TD/INT rate. The problem is he can be rattled, as we saw against the Patriots, but his growth is going to interesting to watch. The Colts want to run the ball more, but Richardson didn’t exactly let that happen. Matt Hasselbeck is the backup, but unless its kneeling down, no one wants to see him.
You would think with Andrew Luck, running would be easier than on most teams. Trent Richardson was brought in to be the man in the backfield, something the Colts have lacked for a decade, but a good Donald Brown impression would work too. The Donald Brown they had is gone to San Deigo, and not many tears were shed on the way out. Bradshaw and Ballard are back, but the hopes are all on Richardson, who might be a first round bust for two teams. He averaged less than 3 yards per carry, and the Colts are just pining away that a full offseason will get him back to his Alabama days.
The Colts have some weapons for Luck.
Reggie Wayne is slowing down, but still an option, T.Y. Hilton went for 1K/5TDs and the Colts added Donte Moncrief in the draft as well. The major get in free agency was Hakeem Nicks, and if he’s back to what he was in New York, this is a scary unit.
Tight End is good to go for the Colts, even if Coby Fleener wasn’t the tag partner I expected him to be when both came out of Standford, he’s still a viable option.
The Colts want to run a 3-4, but its still a work in progress, but now the Colts have Arthur Jones to plug right in the middle and build around. Beside him is Cody Redding on one side and Ricky Jean Francois on the other. This unit has some talent but has some serious issues getting a good pass rush, and Arthur Jones really needs to help that run defense. Outside of Redding, this is a young unit, however, so it could be a unit that, if it gels, could be good for some time.
Robert Mathis is old.
I wish I was that old. Heck, every team wishes they had an old player like Robert Mathis last year, when he gave the Colts 19.5 Sacks and 21 Pressures. Lets just throw 8 fumbles on that as well. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the 4 games he is going to miss for having a banned substance in his system. Nothing at all. Bjoern Werner had 2.5 sacks as a rookie, and needs to be both healthy and productive. Jerrell Freeman and ex-Brown D’Qwell Jackson are in the middle, and while solid, they need to get better against the run.
The Cornerbacks are solid, with Vontae Davis back (at a pretty steep price) on one side and Greg Toler on the other side, if he can stay healthy. Nickel corner Darius Butler is a capable starter as well. The safeties, on the other hand, not so much, LeRon Landry had problems in year 1 in Indy, and Antonie Bethea left town. The Colts have a ton of bodies to throw out there, but its going to be a long pre-season trying to figure out who fits in that last spot.
Vinatieri is still booting at age 41, and is as solid as ever. Pat McAfee is also a rock solid punter, giving the Colts a solid tandem for special teams. What makes this one of the best units is the coverage units, the return teams are not nearly as good, with Kickoff returns ranking in the lower third of the league. Everyone is back, and its possible one of the talented wideouts wants to make his mark here, such as rookie Donte Moncrief.
Round 1- Trent Richardson. Oops.
Round 2- Jake Mewhort. Ok, he should start fairly quickly in training camp, and should be fairly solid.
Round 3- Donte Moncrief. Should be handcuffed to Reggie Wayne from day 1. He should be able to find the feild fairly quickly, so it could help the special teams and third down sets.
The rest of the draft are pretty much camp bodies and chances, but since the Colts didn’t need a ton, they were more than willing to go for base hits.
This could be the year for the Colts.
They have one major weakness, the running game, and a problem with defending the run. Adding Arthur Jones plus having Bjorn and Greg Toler healthy should help, but there isn’t a ton of problems on paper.
Bottom line, if this team isn’t successful, its only going to be either through injury or bad coaching.
A lot has been made of the Colts beating the Seahawks, Niners and Broncos last year but lets be honest- the Colts play in the Big 12 of the NFL, they have 6 wins on the docket due to playing the rest of the AFC South twice a year, the larger question is they lost twice the week before playing those 3 teams (To Miami and San Diego) the only win was against the Jags. The Colts have an issue with consistency and putting teams away- that goes back to the running game.
This year? They start against the Broncos, then the Colts should roll off 3 wins until they hit the hard spot Baltimore, at Houston,Cincinnati, and at Pittsburgh not exactly a murderer’s row is it? After the bye week they play the Pats at home, then pretty much have a workload they can use to get thier pitching rotation in order for the playoffs. If this was a Manning/James team- or a team with a good running back- like the Rhodes/Addai combo- thats a 6 game winning streak with Luck not playing in the 4th quarter.
As is? This should be a 12-4 team all day, with Denver, Baltimore and two slipups against teams they should be beat. The big issue? Can they beat 2 good teams in a row? The hardest back to back they have is Denver/Philly, and those can be two shootuts and I give the Colts a chance to beat anyone in a shootout. What they have problems with is when they get into a 17-14 game. If you held the Colts to under 21 points last year, you won.
If the Colts can assemble the running game there is no reason they cannot play in the Super Bowl. They are easily the third best team in AFC- and they can make a case to being better than either team- until you take the playoff resume’s into account. Luck could change that. The AFC simply isn’t that deep when it comes to top tier teams, and the Colts are the NBA’s Bulls.
EJ: Andrew Luck has done a fine job putting the Peyton Manning era behind him. Just like I thought he would. When Andrew was at Stanford, I looked at his play and said he would be the next great quarterback in the National Football League. He has the intelligence, as well as the measurables to be successful. So far, so good. He’s led the Colts to back to back playoff berths, and he picked up a playoff win last season. All of this with a questionable offensive line, and running game. I won’t harp on what David said, but I will say this: Trent Richardson needs to prove himself this season. It’s about time he fulfills the promise he had when he came out of Alabama, and was made the #3 pick overall by the Cleveland Browns. Maybe his first full season in Indianapolis will be better than what he had in Cleveland, or his split season between the two teams last year.
The defense is solid, but losing Robert Mathis hurts big time. He was a force last season. Now, it may have been the banned substance that put a little pep in his step, so it will be interesting to see how he produces in the 12 games he will be eligible to play in this season. Getting Arthur Jones to come over from Baltimore was a solid move as he’s a stout 3-4 defensive end. The line and linebacker units are adequate enough, as is the secondary (I actually like Vontae Davis as a corner) but other than Mathis and Jones there is no player for opposing offenses to really fear.
So what do I think about the Colts? They’ll win the AFC South but that isn’t a big deal considering who is in the division. There is the Jaguars who on paper is the worst team in football, a Texans team that I think will be good this season but not quite at Indy’s level, and the Titans? Not impressed with Tennessee. Sorry. So what’s the record? I’ll go one better than David and say 13-3 but I think the Colts get off to a slow start losing their first two games before they go on a roll. Can’t see the Colts beating Denver in Denver to start the season, and I think the Eagles offense will run the Colts out of the stadium in Week Two but once the Colts get past those two games, then the roll begins. So 13-3 for the Colts and I’ll have them advancing to the AFC Title Game. I’ll go that far with Indy.
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