The Colt’s went 4-12 last year. Most of that was due to Andrew Luck’s mysterious shoulder injury. The other half of that was the inability of the Colts to close out games, they could have easily gone 9-7 if not for 5 blown fourth quarter leads. That resulted in the firing of Chuck Pagano and the subsequent Josh McDaniels soap opera. If you’ve forgotten, let’s refresh your memory. McDaniels was set to be the Colt’s next head coach, everything but signed the deal. He started hiring coaches to work under him and suddenly at the eleventh hour pulled out and chose to stay in New England. The move sent shockwaves through the leauge and Indy scrambling. So GM Chris Ballard in his second year earned his stripes, he handled it like an absolute pro. Within a week Frank Reich, former Eagles offensive coordinator was coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Ballard earned a lot of respect for how he handled the debacle. Reich however is an unproven, yes the Eagles offense was dynamic but how much of that was Doug Pederson and John Defilippo? Reich will have a major challenge from a fan base who are anxious to get back to there Franchises winning ways.
A lot of that depends on Andrew Luck. Let’s talk about Luck, the QB has missed nearly a year and a half with a somewhat mysterious injury he suffered in 2016. To give you a timeline of just how long ago that was the shoulder injury was potentially against the Denver Broncos, no one knows for sure, in that game the Broncos QB? Former Colt’s legend Peyton Manning. It has been a long time since Luck has taken the field. If he come’s back will he be who he was before the injury? Luck was hailed a hall of famer in his first two seasons but even before his shoulder injury he struggled in his last season. Luck should bounce back, but will he? And more importantly how long will it take?
Luck will come back to a lack of depth at wide out. While T.Y Hilton year in and year out produces outside of adding former Redskin Ryan Grant and drop prone former Lion Eric Ebron the Colt’s receiving core is thin. KJ Brent is a young wideout to watch, he could easily become the clear number two wide receiver if he preforms well in training camp and preseason. The Receiving core is another major hurdle for Luck to deal with.
2018 finally saw the departure of Frank Gore from the Colts. Most likely replacing him will be second year runner Marlon Mack. Look no further then last years game at Tennesee to see why Mack is the best guy for the job. For my money he is one of the most exciting backs in the league though he is very feast or famine when it comes to yardage. He needs to learn to find the holes on smaller runs but he has incredible big play ability. Christine Michael has never stuck anywhere in the NFL but he is a decent third down back that can add an interesting skill set to an offense, though he is due for one massive head scratching mistake a year.
While Ballard didn’t excel in free agency boy did he dominate the draft. That was made clear by his improvement of the offensive line. Drafting Quenton Nelson was a slam dunk, pair him with the rapidly improving Ryan Kelly, Anthony Castanzo, and Austin Howard and hot take, this could be one of the best offensive lines in the leauge next year. A lot of big if’s but if those players can make jumps this is a talented O line with some decent depth including guard Jack Mewhort. You have to love Ballard taking care of one of the Colt’s biggest weaknesses last year.
Now let me turn around and condemn Ballard, this Colt’s defense is almost non existent. Other than Malik Hooker who does this Colt’s defense have? Pierre Desir, Clayton Geathers, and Quincy Wilson are not a great roster to have in the secondary, Geathers missed all of the 2017 season, Wilson struggled mightily, though he was a rookie, and Desir is a journeyman who struggles with man coverage. You think the front of this defense is better? That’s cute, the best pass rusher on this team is Jabaal Sheard and there isn’t much else. Now is that to say this defense couldn’t improve? Of course not, but on paper and statistically this is one of the worst defenses in the leauge and that could be a true detriment to this team, the offense will need to heavily possess the ball to hide it and I just don’t know if they can.
The Colt’s are in an interesting spot, they could either return to being one of the most exciting teams with one of the most exciting offenses in the leauge or they could finish a middle of the road team with a struggling defense that’s offense doesn’t find it’s special something until December. Colt’s fans should expect a five hundred record but Indy being a passionate football town they will expect more.
Record Prediction: 8-8