Things could have been a lot worse for the Indianapolis Colts after the unexpected retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck weeks before the start of the 2019 season. Luck’s departure thrust Jacoby Brissett into the starting role. Brissett had his last meaningful time as a starting quarterback in 2017 when Luck missed the year with a shoulder injury.
There were improvements, but overall the Colts finished the season 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Indianapolis’ faith in Brissett to lead the way was squandered with the addition of veteran Philip Rivers and rookie Jacob Eason. Brissett will remain QB2 as Rivers plays out the final season, or seasons, of his career before ushering in Eason, a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Rivers is still chasing a Super Bowl victory and while this team is talented, it’s still a ways away from contending for a title. The Colts need to set their sights on a move attainable goal. In order for Indianapolis’ 2020 season to be successful, the team needs a playoff win.
The Colts haven’t made it past the divisional round since 2014 when they lost in the conference championship to the eventual Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots. Before that, their deepest run was in 2009, when they lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl 44. Indianapolis can get to the playoffs, despite their recent drought, especially with the moves it made this offseason. The Colts aren’t looking to enter the quarterback sweepstakes in the 2021 draft. If Rivers is a bridge to a new era with Eason, Indianapolis needs to maximize its short time with the storied passer.
Luckily for Rivers, the Colts have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, if not the best. Anthony Castonzo, arguably one of the best left tackles in the NFL, returned for his 10th season; he was re-signed to a two-year deal. This will be the best line Rivers has played behind and if the Colts can keep, and foster, the right talent up front, Eason can also reap the rewards of top protection. Next to Castonzo is left guard, Quenton Nelson, who, according to Pro Football Focus, had the No. 2 run-blocking grade and the No. 7 pass-blocking grade in 2019. On the other side, tackle Braden Smith and guard Mark Glowinski have grown into their roles the past two years, and center Ryan Kelly ranked eighth last season with a 73.0 overall grade, per PFF. This is by far the most exciting position group, but Indianapolis also boasts a mass amount of talent in its skill positions.
The receiving corps features T.Y. Hilton and now Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman may need to quickly rise up to a possible WR1 role after Hilton, who is entering his ninth season in Indianapolis, was placed on the active/non-football injury list with a hamstring issue at the beginning of August. Hilton regressed last season dealing with another injury, but when he’s healthy, he’s been reliable and uber-productive. In 2016, Hilton led the league with 1,448 yards and has recorded five 1,000-plus yard receiving seasons.
The Colts also deepened their backfield by adding running back Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the draft. Taylor will provide much-needed assistance if starting back, Marlon Mack, were to miss time again. Mack has missed eight games over the last three seasons. Taylor will need to have more ball control than what he did at Wisconsin—he struggled, at times, with fumbles—but he’s touted as one of the top talents from this running back class and can be a reliable option behind this offensive line with more experience.
Indianapolis’ additions weren’t just on offense. One of the team’s best moves was on defense. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was added via trade to pair with defensive end Justin Houston and linebacker Darius Leonard. The secondary has a variety of veteran talent as well. The Colts can work to improve their pass defense and the depth of this backfield should work in their favor; even if some of the newest names—Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie—fell off a bit in recent years.
The future looks bright for Indianapolis. This team has all of the parts for continued success, but for the looming season, it must return to the playoffs and win.
- Dec 06, 2022
- Dec 05, 2022