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The Colts showed up big last year. They showed up so big that you have a rare even in professional sports occurring. The owner of the team is admitting that his team overachieved. Usually the owners are always telling you their team is the greatest even when we all know they are a bunch of bums.
“To say the future is bright is an understatement,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. “Quite frankly, you never would have expected this going into the second year. All of a sudden we’re playing against an 11-5 watermark.”
It seems like the Colts also pulled off one of the hardest moves in the NFL, go from one franchise quarterback directly to another. Andrew Luck is certainly no Manning yet, but he looked absolutely great last year, his rookie year. Except this year he is going to have a new coordinator. Arians is out and the new OC is Pep Hamilton. He and Luck worked together for Lucks final two years at Stanford. Whereas Arians liked to have Luck throw the deep ball, Hamilton is going to focus more on the short and intermediate routes. He prefers to run a West Coast offense that will likely play more to Lucks strengths.
The Colts haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since Joseph Addai. That has got to change. Hamilton and Pagano both want a power running game out of their offense and even if it is running back by committee, the committee better deliver. Ballard looked impressive at times last year and if he can build on his rookie performance he may stay the starter. Brown, a former first round pick, has been somewhat of a disappointment. At times he runs with power between the tackles and other times he shows the burst and top end speed to break big runs. But, he isn’t on the field consistently enough due to injuries.
The receivers in this offense are primed and ready to help Luck make his way further towards greatness. Reggie Wayne still leads the way for this unit even at 38 years old.
“Reggie approaches every practice and game the same,” one scout said. “You’re never going to get lest than his best. You might take a play off, Reggie never does.”
Darius Heyward-Bey came in as a free agent to replace the departing Donnie Avery. He never lived up to his potential in Oakland, but not many people did. He has the physical tools and hopefully the Colts will be able to get something out of him.
Coming into the offseason the defense knew it had to shore up its run game. They allowed 5.1 YPA and 137.5 YPG. That ranked them 31st and 29th in the NFL, respectively. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky knew that he needed to add additional personnel and the team went out and got Laron Landry, Jean-Francois and Aubrayo Franklin.
This defense is still in somewhat of a transition as they look to add the correct personnel in their change from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. Gone is Dwight Freeney, their leading pass rusher since 2001, however they still have five-time Pro Bowler Robert Mathis. Even though he is 32 years old he remains a dominant force as a pass rusher. He will be taking Freeney’s spot in the scheme.
The secondary is likely the best overall unit of the defense now that they have Pro Bowler Landry. He and Betha will form an extremely dominant duo as safeties. They also signed Greg Toler from Arizona and will fit well into a press- man coverage scheme that the team likes to play. Vontae Davis will line up on the other side and although he has flaws, he’ll do alright.
The Colts fully believe they can repeat, and possibly improve on their 11-5 record last season, and the truth is they could. They drafted well, have a roster full of young talent and addressed some needs in free agency. They are primed and hungry with a good balance of veteran leadership and young talent. Luck should be able to take this team to back to the playoffs.