Colts All-Time Roster: Offense/Special Teams
Back in July, my colleague Evan Reller wrote a piece on the Colts all-time defensive team. Today I have taken it upon myself to write up the Colts all-time team on offense and we’ll throw special teams in their as well. My intention with this is to give you something positive to think about, as most of the news surrounding the Colts this week has been negative. Let’s just take this time to reminisce about the greatness the Colts have had over the years. We’ll start with the special teams.
Terrence Wilkins– 1999-2006
Wilkins is second all-time in franchise history in punt return yards, and has three punt returns for touchdowns. He is also the franchise leader in kick return yards and has one touchdown. He is the Colts version of Dante Hall, which maybe hints at how poor the return game has been in the Colts’ history.
Pat McAfee– 2009-present
It’s really down to two players here, either McAfee or Hunter Smith, who was the punter for most of the Manning-era. McAfee gets the nod because as good as Smith was McAfee is just a step above him. He averages more yards per punt than Smith, and he puts more inside the 20 yard line then Smith did.
Adam Vinatieri– 2006-present
Again it comes down to two players, either Vinatieri or “He who must not be named”(more on that in a second). The fact of the matter is this, Vinatieri is arguably the best kicker to ever play in NFL. In terms of accolades and resume, Vinatieri is going to out-duel any kicker for a spot on an all-time team. It’s a no-brainer to put the ageless one in this spot.
Now I call Vanderjagt “He who must not be named” in a joking sense, but I will always have a beef with that guy, for as long as I live. Here’s why, and I know I’m going off track, but whatever. I got a beef with him because of this moment. That was in the AFC Divisional game in 2005, after the Colts went 14-2 in the regular season, and that dunce missed the flippin’ field goal. On top of that, my dad was a huge Steelers fan, and he never let me live this moment down, so know I’ve always had beef with Vanderjagt, and every Colts fan should.
Tarik Glenn– 1997-2006
Ryan Diem– 2001-2011
Diem and Glenn were the two anchors on the outside that protected Peyton Manning throughout his entire Colts career. However, Glenn was the only one of the two to make the Pro Bowl, as he was selected three times throughout his career. Both of these guys were the starters on the 2006 Super Bowl team. In terms of approximate value, which is a stat that is explained here, Glenn ranks 8th all-time in Colts history in that stat, with an AV of 104. Diem is not that far behind as he ranks 11th in franchise history with an approximate value of 89.
Dan Sullivan– 1962-1972
Glenn Ressler– 1965-1974
Diem and Glenn were tasked with protecting Manning, Sullivan and Ressler were tasked with protecting Johnny Unitas. Both were on the Baltimore Colts team that won Super Bowl V in 1971. In terms of approximate value(which is a great stat to measure an offensive lineman’s impact) Sullivan ranks 36th in Colts franchise history with an AV of 60 and Ressler is right behind him in the franchise ranks with an AV of 58.
Jeff Saturday– 1999-2011
The most recent inductee into the Colts ring of honor is another no-brainer for the center spot. Although Tarik Glenn is in the conversation, I would say Saturday is the best offensive lineman to ever play in Indianapolis. He made six Pro Bowls and was on the 2006 Super Bowl team. With an AV of 144 he ranks 4th all-time in approximate value, which is higher than skill position players like Johnny Unitas and Edgerrin James, which is a testament to how important Saturday was to the Colts.
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Dallas Clark– 2003-2011
John Mackey– 1963-1971
Although Mackey was really the first great tight end in football, if I had to pick a started I’d still pick Clark. He has 427 receptions as a Colts which is far more than Mackey’s 320. Mackey had the edge in receiving yards though, but only by 239 yards. The difference to me is receiving touchdowns, both players had great quarterbacks(Manning and Unitas) who could get them the ball. Now Mackey had 38 career touchdowns as a Colt, but Clark had 46 TDs in Indianapolis which would rank 6th all-time in franchise history.
Marvin Harrison– 1996-2008
Reggie Wayne– 2001-2014
Raymond Berry– 1955-1967
The Colts have had great wide receivers in the past, but it seems like no matter how great the other receivers are, they’ll never eclipse these three guys. All three of them are one,two, three in the Colts record books in terms of receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, with Harrison being the leader of all three categories.
Now Berry was the first “great” Colts wide receiver alongside Johnny Unitas and he was followed by Harrison and then Wayne. You can make the case that not only is Harrison the greatest Colts wide receiver, but he is also one of the greatest receivers to put on an NFL uniform. His stats speak for themselves, as he’s 7th in NFL history in total receiving yards, 3rd in receptions, and 5th it total touchdowns.
The only reason I make such a case for Harrison being one of the greatest ever is because he is currently a Hall of Fame nominee. I have seen some things saying Harrison shouldn’t get in on the first ballot, and that makes absolutely no sense to me. He has the stats, he’s a Super Bowl winner, and never “dropped off” during his career unlike another receiver on the ballot(Terrell Owens).
Edgerrin James– 1999-2005
Lenny Moore– 1956-1967
The Colts, historically have always focused on the passing game, and that’s rightfully so with the great quarterbacks they have had in their franchises history. However there have been some great running backs to wear the blue and white, guys like Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson for example. We all know that Dickerson and Faulk had better careers with other teams (and coincidentally they were both better for the Rams). Faulk and Dickerson are both in the top-five of rushing yards all-time for a Colts player. They get left off however because these two backs above were more important than Faulk and Dickerson.
Lenny Moore was the original running back, a rough and tumble runner who is fifth all-time in franchise history in rushing yards as well as second all-time in rushing touchdowns with 63. The only player to have more rushing touchdowns was Edgerrin James, who is also on the ballot for a Hall of Fame nod. James has the most rushing yards in Colts history with 9226 yards, and he is the only Colt to win a rushing title(actually won two). Since James left the Colts in 2005, they have had only one 1000+ yard rusher, and that was the immortal Joseph Addai. James also made grills look cool, so the further cements his place here in my opinion.
Peyton Manning– 1998-2011
Johnny Unitas– 1956-1972
I hope to write this piece again in 15 years and say Andrew Luck is better than both Manning and Unitas, but those are only pipe dreams at this point.
It’s fairly obvious that Manning and Unitas are here, there is no other Colts QB that could contest. Combined they threw for 94,596 yards and 686 touchdowns, and they are obviously number one and two in those categories in the Colts records books. Manning threw for more yards(15,060) and touchdowns(112) than Unitas. Looking at that stat it’s quite astonishing given that Unitas played for the Colts for 16 seasons, while Manning only played 12. That, again should cement Manning as the greatest Colts quarterback, but also as one of the best quarterbacks ever.
Well, hopefully this brightened your spirits up a little bit. Be sure to stay tuned to Horseshoe Heroes for updates on the upcoming match-up between the Colts and the Titans!