Indianapolis Colts: Looking at the team after a few months away

Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts have made quite a few changes over the past months, almost too many to count if you haven’t been paying attention like some former writers.

On the eve of the NFL Draft, and after taking a few months off from covering football and the Indianapolis Colts, I have some questions.

Who the hell are all these people?

Are these defenders any better than the old, slow ones? (Can they possibly be worse?)

Did they fix the pass rush yet or are they still hoping Robert Mathis will save them? (Yes, I know he’s retired too, don’t @ me.)

What about the offensive line? Is it still crap?

Why the hell do they need a new punter?

Why is Chuck Pagano still the head coach? I thought the Colts were done with half measures?

How in the living hell do you blow a 25-point lead?!

No, really, how do you blow a 25-point lead. That is beyond baffling. I’m still mad.

New GM Chris Ballard has been awfully busy in his short time in Indy. 16 players signed, three cut, and two unfortunately retired. The new direction of the team would be complete, save for Pagano not leaving with Ryan Grigson. 

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Both Grigson and Pagano shared equal blame for the horrid state of the Colts and changing the makeup of the roster isn’t going to change the poor philosophies or slow starts. Maybe the defense is a bit better, but that’s taking a leap of faith that Pagano has the tools to get the job done.

Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised with a return to the 11-5 records the first three years of Pagano’s tenure. But as always, this team will go as far as Andrew Luck can carry them.

Here’s a few of the big things that happened during the offseason.

Colts trade Dwayne Allen to the Patriots

One of two things happens with Dwayne Allen and the Patriots. Either he has an All-Pro season and they go one for a *shudder* sixth Super Bowl. Or Allen’s ankles shatter while Gronk tears his rotator cuff spiking the ball and the Pats STILL somehow win another championship. *sigh*

Pat McAfee Retires

I noticed that McAfee’s twitter timeline got…darker. Looks like he isn’t holding back in his new career.

As disappointing as it is that he’s retired, it’s understandable. That many surgeries in just a few years starts weighing on you. And if you’re told you’ll need a knee replacement at 40 if you keep playing, you’d probably hang up the pads too.

Funny enough, Adam Vinatieri is still on the team at 44 years old, the oldest in the NFL. This is the same man who had hip surgery back in 2009 and was 27-for-31 in 2016. He isn’t aging like a normal human being.

The Colts cut a bunch of old players.

Defensive players D’Qwell Jackson, Art Jones, and Patrick Robinson were on the chopping block when Ballard took over. And it wasn’t surprising in the least, and honestly quite overdue (at least for the first two).

Some people asked how much tape of the Colts defense Ballard watched after taking the job. Well he saw his Nick Foles led Chiefs hang 30 on them in Indy last October. That was more than enough.

Maybe the replacement players won’t work out, but they really can’t do much worse than the guys who were there last season. Although the secondary and pass rush is still a dumpster fire, so maybe we’ll reserve judgement until after the draft on this rebuild.

Colts splurge in late free agency and sign Johnathan Hankins.

Probably the best move Ballard made and one he patiently waited for as well. Hankins gives the Colts the sort of nose tackle they haven’t had since Anthony McFarland (and that only lasted 15 games, but ended with a Super Bowl trophy).

With Hankins on the roster, the Colts starting defensive line looks awfully intriguing. Henry Anderson, Hankins, and Kendall Langford could be an impressive trio that actually might be able to make quarterbacks uncomfortable.

But the Colts still really need an EDGE rusher that can take over a game Mathis-style on defense.

The Draft

Now we head towards the draft, an area where Ballard shined while in Kansas City. It is unlikely he’ll do worse than Grigson but there’s going to be some tempting offensive players lingering at 15 in the first round Thursday night.

Next: Biggest Defensive Needs Entering the Draft

The Colts desperately need a defensive playmaker and if they take someone on the other side of the ball, there are going to be a lot of unhappy fans. Ballard has spoken about taking the best player available, and that’s great to say, but that isn’t what generally happens. The key is not to reach for need while draft, something Grigson did too often.

It’s exciting to see the team with something resembling direction. Maybe it is misplaced, but the trends are certainly encouraging. Just hope Ballard doesn’t whiff on the draft this weekend.