2017 Season Previews: Indianapolis Colts

The wheels have come off the Colts the last few years, coming off a 13-3 season have been back to back 8-8 years. I do tend to wonder what Luck has been thinking since signing his free agent contract. You puut Luck in Washington or heck, Houston, and the Pats might be worried.

Offense: Luck had to go under the knife in the offseason, and will have to work his back a bit, but the thought is he should be ready by opening day. Scott Tolzien is the backup, and while he didn’t look horrible against Pittsburgh, no one is looking forward to that.
TY Hilton is the main target, and the Colts have got to look for him more often in the redzone, as he only has 6 TDs, far too few for a target of his caliber.
If they could get anything out of former number 1 pick Phillip Dorsett that would be more than they have gotten recently. There is some talent here, but not any three guys who can be counted on every down.
Frank Gore is back, and simply has not slowing down, and has gotten over that 1k yard barrier. He got 4 TDs in the air and 4 on the ground, not exactly a great mix you want from your primary back. Andrew Luck was actually the guy with the second most rushing yards, and that is another problem. Marlon Mack was drafted in the fourth round and should get a lot of looks as he hits the hole quickly.
Ryam Kelly was the number one pick of the Colts last year and he was expected to settle the line down and he did just that. The line still has a lot of problems, but actually jelled a bit, and as a bonus, last years third and fifth round picks started at least 8 games. Hard to argue with carpet bombing a position if you get three starters out of it. Anthony Castonzo isn’t a consistent blocker, as he has been a bit of a downward slide that he is far too young for.

Defense: Johnathan Hankins was the big money addition, and he’s going to sit right in the middle of that front seven and plug up the running game. Margus Hunt is a lesser addition, but should also start, and Henry Anderson should be back from surgery, and if he gets back into form this could be an above average unit.
The next level had some new bodies, and I mean a lot of new bodies. Going into camp, 6 new free agents, and 2 draft picks, Barkevious Mingo was a bust in Cleveland, and John Simon could end up starting, plus Sean Spence could end up being the leader. The Colts were 30th in defense, so turnover isn’t always a bad thing. This isn’t an expensive unit, as none of them are major contracts, but hopefully they can cobble a starting unit.
The secondary should take some time to come together, but could be good later in the year. Top pick Malik Hooker is coming off surgery, but will start as soon as possible. That should give Darius Butler some options on where to play, as he can play almost any position. Vontee Davis is a solid veteran but not a guy you can put on an island. Davis is also one of two camp bodies that have been with the Colts more than 2 years.

Special Teams: Adam Vinatieri is a Hall of Famer in waiting, and still rock-solid. The Colts have a new punter from the Vikings who can also kick off. Coverage units are better than average, but gave up 3 TDs last year in special teams.

Overall: It all comes down to what bodies show up in the defense, there are a TON of new guys, and in the old days, that would be fine, but with the new practice limits and less days in pads, that’s going to hurt in the beginning. The problem is, all the “easy” games are up front in those early weeks. Rams, Browns, Niners Jacksonville are all before Halloween, and the bye week isn’t until the week before Thanksgiving.

I’ll go 3 wins in the division, 1 win in the NFC West- again, they get the Rams week 1 IN LA. 2 wins vs the AFC North. Bonus Games? Lose to Buffalo and Denver.
Hang on, the Colts go 6-10? Yes. Again, look at that defense and offensive line.
I do think that all the youth and turnaround is going to help in 2018, but the Titans are on the rise, and Houston has a QB. Only Jacksonville is a safe space now.

Three Questions

1. If the Colts do not have Luck for 2017, could this team contend with the Jets for the worst record?

Joe: Let’s see… no Andrew Luck … so they need a QB… I assume it wouldn’t be Kaepernick. That leaves their backup Scott Tolzien, a guy with only six career game appearances. Why does that make me leery if I’m a Colts’ fan? Or someone else from the dregs after teams make their cuts. Basically, someone who kind of sucks. And, who probably won’t be a bigtime playmaker who can get the ball down field accurately to the Colts better than average receivers. Assuming of course he has an O-line that can provide him with the time to throw. Problem… last year the Cots O-Line sucked. The Indianapolis Colts were 28th in pass protection last year. They didn’t protect their quarterback well at all. I don’t know that they did enough in the off-season  to say I believe they improved a hell of a lot.

Bottom line… yeah, no Luck and they could be under .500 for the year and maybe competing for the #1 choice in next year’s draft.

Dan: I think, if Luck doesn’t play a snap all season, which is unlikely in my eyes, that the Colts certainly could contend for one of the worst records but I still think they could have a respectable season compared to the Jets whereas if they have Luck, they’ll definitely contend for a playoff position.

David: This could really be a horrible franchise is Luck’s leg fell off. I think that moves them to below Buffalo levels of talent, but only with a worse coach.

2. Do the you think the Colts can catch the Texans or will the Titans pass them for second place?

Joe: See my answer to #1. Or: Nope.

Dan: No, I think they will come in third place behind Tennessee. I really like the Titans this season and I think they have a very underrated but good team. The Colts aren’t really all that good, in my eyes, and if Luck misses any time (2+ games), that’ll cost them a chance at the post-season.

David: I actually do have them getting passed by the Titans this year. It does remain to be seen if that fact holds, but I do think with Watson, the Texans are going to stay in front for the forseeable future, and the Titans seems to be heading in the right direction. I almost think that if the Jags sign Kirk Cousins next year, they could be looking at the Jags in third place.

3. If you were the GM, where would you look to rebuild first?

Joe: The offensive line and then think about finding a long term replacement for after Luck.

Dan: The offensive line and defense. And I would need to get a solid back-up quarterback for when Luck gets injured because as of the past few seasons, it doesn’t seem like it’s if Luck will get hurt, but when he will get hurt. And they really need help on defense. I’d look for secondary help and both lines. But the offensive line definitely needs work.

David: I’m carpet-bombing the offensive line. I’m talking first 3 picks. Then I take a running back and/secondary the next few rounds.

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