The 2015 season was a disappointment for the Indianapolis Colts, but there’s a lot that we can take away from last year.
What did we learned from the 2015 Colts? I’d start with the old cliché “championships aren’t won in the off season”. Last off season gave Colts fans a lot to be excited about. Many had the Colts as super bowl favorites to start the year. What we learned is that no matter how good a team looks on paper, they have to perform on the field. Many factors played into why the Colts didn’t make the playoffs to give themselves a chance to play in Super Bowl 50.
One of the main reasons the Colts struggled this year was injuries. Star quarterback Andrew Luck missed games for the first time in his professional career. Not only Luck but a bunch of key pieces were hurt this season and couldn’t contribute. Art Jones was lost in the preseason and never saw action in 2015. Greg Toler missed the first four games of the season with a neck injury.
Potential defensive rookie of the year candidate Henry Anderson suffered a torn ACL halfway through the year. First round pick Phillip Dorsett broke an ankle and missed time. Left tackle Anthony Castanzo missed games for the first time in his career. Mike Adams was hampered by injuries yet still made the pro bowl. Vontae Davis missed time along with linebacker Jerrel Freeman. Dwayne Allen was hurt and ineffective. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was great when he stepped in but he was banged up as well.
It’s safe to say the Colts were hurt.
Along with injuries came a lot of under achievement. Newly acquired players such as Andre Johnson and Trent Cole didn’t live up to the hype. Other guys like Todd Herremans didn’t even last the entire season.
By Colts standards it just wasn’t good enough. As a result the Colts missed the playoffs for the first time since Peyton Manning‘s last season in Indy. Obviously a lot of room for improvement on a team that’s normally a playoff team year after year.
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Through all the struggles there a bunch of bright spots as well. Kendall Langford was great. A highly underrated addition to the team solid all the way around. David Parry was a surprise interior defensive lineman as well. Robert Mathis returned and appears to be headed back to form. Donte Moncrief started off hot, but ended the season a bit banged up. Dwight Lowry was solid in the secondary. Frank Gore ran hard every game. Punter Pat McAfee was outstanding.
All in all with everything that happened this season the team finished 8-8. Not bad considering they were without the starting quarterback for most of the second half of the season. The record doesn’t reflect the team.
It appeared that after the Denver win Luck had turned it on after a rough first half. The Colts were a few plays away from handing Carolina their first loss of the season before Atlanta did. I’m confident that with a healthy Andrew Luck the Colts would have beaten Houston at home and Jacksonville on the road. I’m also very confident that the Colts would have put up a better game than Houston did in the playoffs against Kansas City. We’ll have to wait until next season to find out now.
I was very happy to hear the news of head coach Chuck Pagano being retained. The move should let the players know that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Continuity will go a long way in developing the team. Players made it pretty clear whom they wanted coaching the team. We know there’s work to be done but there’s a foundation already in place. The Colts have to apply what they’ve learned in this tough season and apply into next year.
So what did we learn? Not to think you win a Super Bowl in free agency. We learned that any team can be dismantled by injuries. We learned the importance of a good back up quarterback. The Colts have to do something about the front five to protect Andrew Luck and open up running lanes.
The Colts need to find more consistency in 2016. Pass rush needs to be better and the interior push has to improve. We also learned a lot about the team and how much heart they have. I look forward to the Colts next season to see where we go from here.