Indianapolis Colts: Betting heavy on Luck
2016 has been a strange and eventful year with interesting decisions being taken that just make you go “What? Why? Is that really a good idea?” Most recently that was the appointment of Boris Johnson as home secretary, but to Colts fans, Jim Irsay did it when he extended Grigson’s and Pagano’s contracts. There were even some eyebrows raised with signing Andrew Luck to such a big contract. That’s three heavy bets on making it to the post-season and overcoming a strengthened AFC South (possibly not the Leyland DAF of the NFL any longer)
Last season was a major disappointment though not quite a disaster. Other teams would be happy with an 8-8 season (*cough* Fisher and the Rams) but it was quite a fall from grace having made it to the Championship game in 2014. Perhaps Pagano and Grigson kept their jobs because the Colts spent most of the season running games with Matt Hasselbeck under center and so the poor performance was more because of injuries. It can be argued that Luck’s poor performance before fully lacerating his kidney was because he was suffering from other injuries that he managed to keep quiet on until they all mounted up and ended with him out of the season. Well that is a possibility and one as the Gents resident Colts fan I am holding onto, Luck didn’t look himself when he did play and looked uncomfortable to downright scared behind that o-line.
Were there positives last season to bring into this one? Well they still have a good receiving corp despite having to let go of Coby Fleener in free agency. Also keeping Frank Gore is not as risky as everyone seems to think, yes he is an ageing back but his numbers have been pretty consistent over the last few seasons and last year he actually gave the Colts a running game.
The only big splash the Colts made during the off season was signing Andrew Luck in a deal through to 2021. They have given him a new back up in the shape of Aaron Rodgers former back up Scott Tolzien. Otherwise the Colts have picked up a few players here and there, resigning Dwayne Allen, resigning Jack Doyle obviously as a work in progress and to save some money they released Andre Johnson. Robert Turbin has solidified his position as the no.2 running back but maybe we will see more of a split backfield, as Turbin has been somewhat impressive these pre-season games, possibly one of few bright sides to what has been a difficult pre-season match ups. Saying that Stevan Ridley has been signed at the time of writing so who knows what is going on there. Apart from a more split backfield.
The Colts did draft well or at least sensibly this year. Ryan Kelly is a great addition and though has had a bit of a shaky start in the pre-season, has the talent to hopefully work well with Luck and create a solid partnership that will keep Luck on his feet and give him time to make plays. However, already injuries are starting to take their toll with guard Jack Mewhort looking like he will miss some time. Le’Raven Clark could therefore see playing time before he is fully ready, more than his pre-season has shown. This could be quite a baptism of fire for a rookie o-line.
Where the concern is, is the defence. We can tell this because in the pre-season games they have looked woeful and have already picked up a number of injuries, depleting both the front seven and especially the secondary. Hence why Antonio Cromartie was recently been signed and joined the ranks. Robert Mathis hasn’t been himself of late and Vontae Davis can’t do everything and has slowed up somewhat. T.J. Green looks like he could be thrown into the deep end, with the second rounder all set to start in week round. Saying that he has not had a bad pre-season though did make a few mistakes against both the Ravens and Bills. But the defence is stretched, has suffered injuries and lacks the depth needed.
The pre-season has not necessarily been kind to Pagano and the Colts, where starters on both sides of the line have shown serious flaws and where there is hope the Colts can move the ball, keeping Andrew Luck on his feet and healthy is looking as challenging as it has been for the last few seasons. Yes the Colts are scoring points, but they don’t have sufficient top class weapons (apart from Luck) to really challenge for the play-offs. As much as I love T.Y. Hilton, Dorsett and Moncrief are still somewhat unproven and I think Dwayne Allen is coming towards the end of his effectiveness.
In our recent pre-season power rankings we had the Colts 19th and this is probably fair though with the way the injuries are going, it could well be they will be lucky even to get 8-8 this year. Everyone in the AFC South have improved, the Colts have just about tread water. I don’t expect to see them in the playoffs.
Finish the season 8-8 more likely 7-9. Luck will hopefully survive, the connection with Kelly becoming stronger through out the season, a patchwork defense starting to take shape by the end of the season, but all in all too little to late.