Realistic Expectations for the 2015 Colts
With the NFL regular season countdown now in the single digits, fans of all teams can start getting excited (if they weren’t already) for another season of NFL football. The Colts are one team that seems to have some very high aspirations from their fan base.
With their offseason signings of big name players like Andre Johnson and Frank Gore to couple with the superstar in Andrew Luck, the excitement for this years Colts team seems to be sky high. To put it bluntly, fans are expecting to see a better final result this season compared to last season.
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I’m a Colts fan, and as a fan it would be very easy for me to sit here and say “The Colts with their high powered offense will go 15-1 and cruise to the Super Bowl.” As much as I would like that to happen, at this point before the regular season it is important that I am not clouded by my Colts fandom when looking at what this season will hold. If I allow myself to become blinded by my own fandom, then I have a higher chance of being disappointed, and I’m sure many of you are the same.
So as a collective group of Colts fanatics, let’s allow ourselves to become unbiased, for a brief moment. If we do that we can truly look at this upcoming Colts season with some objectivity, so then we can formulate some realistic expectations for 2015.
Now I’m not saying we should become pessimists, but we cannot simply overlook the glaring weaknesses the Colts have. For all of the bad, there is also a lot of good in the Colts, we just need to see the whole scope to truly understand what may happen this season. If we don’t do that, we may all end up disappointed regardless of outcome(besides a Super Bowl of course). Let’s take a look:
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) is hit by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Arthur Jones (97) during the first quarter of the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
We’ll start with the bad and then finish with the good. The Colts have two weaknesses that could lead to their demise this coming season. One being the defense as a whole, most notably the defensive line. With starting defensive tackle Art Jones out for the season due to an ankle injury, the front line of the Colts is hurting.
I discussed in my last piece about the importance of Jones to the Colts and their run stopping effort. The Colts have historically had trouble stopping the run and this year could spell disaster. With Jones gone, the Colts are left without a real defensive tackler, they cut Montori Hughes and Josh Chapman and currently it looks as though newly signed, undrafted rookie T.Y. McGill may start.
The Colts on paper seem to be loaded everywhere else on defense, especially at the linebacker and safety spots. The thing that is scary however is their lack of a defensive line. With a lot of unproven rookies on the roster at those positions, these early season games may be disastrous for the Colts defense. I would maybe expect these first five or six games to be complete shootouts simply because of the Colts’ lack of experience on the front line.
Speaking of front lines, the Colts other weakness is on the other side of the ball, this time it’s the offensive line. This has been an issue since Luck came into the league in 2012. The offensive line is forever changing with new, inexperienced faces coming in and quite frankly doing an average to below average job protecting Luck. This year may be not be different than any other year, as we’ve already seen in this preseason that the line has been unable to keep Luck on his feet.
Now, Luck is still young and able and always gets up after the hit, but if the Colts really are invested in Luck(which they are) they could at least devote some more money to get better offensive linemen. We saw them do this with Peyton Manning when he played in Indy. How many times did you see Manning get knocked down when he was with the Colts? I can honestly say I could count the times on my fingers. That, so far, has not been the case with Luck, and that is not good.
Aug 16, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore (23) warms-up prior to a preseason NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alright, enough of the bad, let’s look at the good in the 2015 Colts. Obviously they have Luck leading them on offense, and no matter how bad the protection is Luck seems to not be phased by throws off balance or on the run. It’s like he’s some sort of superhuman creature(or as Deadspin would call him a “Lagoon Creature”), that being said the Colts brought in several weapons to aid Luck. As mentioned in the beginning they have Johnson and Gore.
The concern with both of these guys seems to be that they are too old or past their prime. In Gore’s case he’s coming off four straight thousand yard seasons, so I don’t know how legitimate that case is. Johnson has clearly lost a step, but I will say with his height and strength he always poses a threat down the field. Along with those two the Colts still have the same cast of players; Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, T.Y. Hilton, and Donte Moncrief. With all those weapons in tow, the Colts will most certainly have a deadly offensive attack every game.
Another strength I believe the Colts have is their secondary, now their interior defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the secondary is very good. They have Vontae Davis, who is a top-5 cornerback as well as Greg Toler, who is also a good coverage corner. They also have very good safeties in Mike Adams and Dwight Lowery, people and analysts may not see it now, but the Colts secondary could be responsible for a lot of takeaways this season.
With all of the good and bad taken into account, what can we expect from the 2015 Colts? In my personal opinion, I think it is left up to the defense. Some aspect of their offense will be there every game, it’s just a matter of if the defense can consistently get stops on the other end. That has been a hallmark of the Colts defense for a very long time, their inability to get consistent stops. Hopefully this year they buck the trend.
Looking at the schedule, in terms of wins and losses I think the Colts will go 12-4. Those four losses coming to the Dolphins, Broncos, Saints, and Texans. That being said they will remain the AFC South champions, simply because the other teams in their division are not ready to compete at the Colts’ level consistently yet. Playoffs are definitely in the cards in 2015 for Indy, it’s just a matter of if they can finally make it over the hump come Playoff time.