It’s About Time The Colts Got Some Luck…
You know that feeling you get when you are on board an airplane and you hit a pocket of turbulence? It makes you feel uncomfortable and sometimes when it’s at its most severe, you to question the ability of the Captain and just pray he can get you down in one piece. Well, welcome to the current life of an Indianapolis Colts fan, it has been a bumpy ride.
As we draw closer to the melee of the offseason for the NFL, now more than ever could be the most important offseason for this Colts team in more than a decade. There are several major issues and concerns that need to be addressed in the upcoming free agency and draft periods. Since the Peyton Manning glory days ceased in 2012, there has been a slow decline of performances for Indy, despite drafting one of the most promising collegiate quarterbacks of his era in Andrew Luck. The biggest concern might be the offensive line that is seemingly inept at protecting their franchise player. Allowing opposing defenses to leak through the cracks time after time and expose Luck to numerous hits – many that have led to injuries and possibly shaving years off his career. In fact, over the last three seasons, the Colts have failed to record a winning season (8-8, 8-8 and 4-12) which is their longest drought without a winning record since 1991. So, what needs to change? Let’s review some key components that owner Jim Irsay needs to address in order to get the Colts back to their winning ways.
1. Select a No-Nonsense Head Coach.
The Colts need a character at the helm that can grab the bull by the horns and who will be able to ring in the changes. They need a leader to remove the dead wood and build some new foundations in order to rekindle the success this team has achieved in recent years. Indianapolis needs rejuvenating. It’s no longer a case of being the big fish in the small pond that is the AFC South. The division that was once voted the poorest quality within the NFL has been reinvigorated thanks to vast improvements to playing personnel in Jacksonville and Tennessee, meaning this division is no longer a cake walk. Former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy reportedly turned down the chance to be the next Head Coach in Indianapolis in favor of the Chicago Bears, possibly citing the health and the uncertain future of Andrew Luck as a reason not to pursue the role.
Although concerning to hear, Colts fans have to believe that after sitting out the whole season and recent news that another surgery isn’t required on Luck’s shoulder, a return to under center in 2018 is surely going to happen. As things stand, all speculation seems to be pointing in the direction of New England’s OC Josh McDaniels taking over HC duties for the Colts. After working in a successful environment with some of the most prolific personnel the league has ever seen, McDaniels would certainly be a guy with the fresh ideas and play calls that Indianapolis so desperately craves. However, will McDaniels be able to go from a team with a whole plethora of talent to a franchise that is well and truly bereaved of such luxuries?
2. Make Use of the Cap Space
There were rumors that Luck may be on the trading block throughout 2017 but I think that ship has left the dock. Despite being over-valued by the majority of the league, the shoulder injury that has kept him out for the entirety of the season and the fact he’s only played 22 games in three years would seriously dent any significant interest that his stand-alone name value may possess. Despite having to take Luck’s $24.4 million salary into consideration for the upcoming season, the Colt’s still find themselves with $82 million left in cap space. The most likely position priority that needs strengthening would be their mediocre offensive line. However, with the lack of offensive linemen slated to be on the free agency, the Colts will likely have to trade in order to bolster up that much-needed quarterback protection. Instead, they should look to build on their young defensive corps and add some quality at pass rush considering they only managed 23 sacks on the season, ranking 30th in the league. Ezekiel Ansah is a name that will be welcomed by all Colts fans and would certainly help out the promising DB’s by putting pressure on the opposing quarterback.
3. Getting the Draft Right
In my opinion, the Colts hold the best spot in the first round ahead of this year’s draft. With increased speculation that the Browns and Giants will both be drafting quarterbacks with the first two picks, the Colts may have the luxury of selecting the best player in any other position. It would be very hard to pass on the potential superstar Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State) if he is still available when Indy is on deck. With aging Frank Gore still unsigned for 2018 and question marks over whether young gun Marlon Mack is capable of sustaining a workhorse load. Barkley could provide the spark to ignite the Colts’ offense. Indy managed 1,661 rushing yards in 2017 with Gore solely contributing 961 yards. Similarly to the free agent market this off-season, there is a lack of options in the way of top 10 prospects in the offensive line positions. Indy may want to consider trading down the draft order to the 10-15 range where they would likely be able to draft the likes of Quentin Nelson (OG, Notre Dame) or Orlando Brown (OT, Oklahoma), both of whom would certainly be welcome additions in creating a foundation to protecting Andrew Luck.
From a fantasy perspective, it is difficult to predict what value any of the Colts’ skill players have to offer heading into next season. It will all be dependent on the final verdict with Luck’s injury status and pieces they can add to help protect him to go along with the overall depth in the fantasy relevant positions. For now, expect the former first overall pick to be targeted at the end of fantasy drafts with the upside of being a Top-5 quarterback.
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