With great management, established leaders and a young foundation the Colts are gearing up for success in this year two under Reich and Ballard.
The start of the 2018 season for the Colts was about as forgettable as when Curtis Painter was the signal caller for the Colts. After a 1-5 start that was plagued with so much injuries it warranted a Ken Nun sponsorship, the Colts corrected their course winning nine out of ten remaining games, earning them 2nd place in the AFC South and a their first playoff berth in 3 years.
In the wildcard game the Colts headed down to Indy South to face the Texans. The Colts won 21-7 in a game that resulted in the combination of a great running game and one of the best team defensive efforts I’ve ever seen from a Colts team. Specifically Pierre Desir, who seemed like he was covering DeAndre Hopkins the entire game. Hopkins finished with 5 catches, off of 10 targets for only 37 yards. Desir really earned his money during that game.
The win would then send the Colts to Kansas City, where the Colts ran into the buzzsaw Chiefs and were sent home packin’ on a cold Sunday afternoon. In the months to follow the Colts would show patience in free agency, produce a calculated draft class, and was able to maintain key coaches while adding the OG Howard Mudd to the staff.
“Turn the page”
The Indianapolis Colts are just thirteen short days away from heading up to Westfield, Indiana (from July 25 – August 15) to start their 2019 season. As is with every new season in the NFL, the team you finished with last year won’t be the team you start with this year. Yet teams are able to build on last years success and that all starts in training camp. With great management, established leaders and a young foundation the Colts are gearing up for success in this year two under Reich and Ballard.
So as the Colts head into training camp in a few weeks, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Andrew “The Moral Booster” Luck. This will be Andrew’s first off-season where there hasn’t been a looming injury over him. Andrew simply being healthy eliminates a lot of questions on the field and in the media sessions. There are realistically twenty NFL QB’s who are week-in-and-week-out starters, of those twenty; Luck, Mahomes, Rodgers, Brees, Brady & Wilson are Tier 1s and those teams with T1 QB’s rest easy at night. Not to mention the valuable time Luck will now get with this young team to go over protections, packages, and timing.
2. The Offensive Lines development with the addition of Howard Mudd. In case you are unfamiliar with Coach Mudd, he’s been an OL coach in the NFL since the days of leather helmets and could win first prize in an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest.
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This is Mudd’s second stint with the Colts. Remember the day of Peyton? Stretch left and stretch right, with a bootleg off of that? The line that allowed that play to dominate the NFL for 10 years was Howard Mudd’s line. Edge, Addai, Dominic Rhodes all ran behind a Howard Mudd line. So with the addition of Mudd, it will be interesting to see how the Colts run offense can build on their success late last season.
3. Penalties. The Colts had a total of 120 penalties called against them last season, 4th most in the NFL in 2018. Now lot of these penalties occurred at the beginning of the season when the team was dealing with injury and going through the growing pains of a 1-5 team. And yes, at first glance, this is an alarming stat. But breaking the number down further the feeling becomes more tolerable.
In total yards the Colts ranked 14th allowing 953 total yards in penalties, middle of the road considering the high volume of flags thrown against the Colts. The Colts had 27 off. holding penalties, 11 def. holding penalties, 5 pass interference calls, 2 roughing the punter calls and 6 unnecessary roughness calls. These 5 types of penalties are legit game changing penalties and overall I think the Colts did a great job managing the storm early in the season. So for the Colts it isn’t as much about fixing the penalty issues, but emphasizing the importance of it early in the season like any great team would.Teams that can limit penalties will always be contenders.
Case in point, the Pats had only 93 penalties last year for a total of 744 yards, that’s 3rd least and 2nd least respectively in the league. You think Belichick isn’t drilling penalties into every player’s head day 1? Even to players he’s cutting, they still will know the importance of penalties.
4. The Competitive Atmosphere. If you are a Colts fan you have a lot to be happy about. One of those things is depth at a lot of positions. Depth creates competition so whether it’s the secondary, the wide receiver group or any of the undrafted free agents, one would hope to see an inordinate amount of battles this summer. The team will head to camp with 90ish players on the rosters, 13 of them will be wide receiver, 10 – linebackers, 9 – cornerbacks and 8 – safeties. Four positions account for nearly 45% of the teams current roster and by the end it needs to add up to 53. Cuts are coming, hopefully competition does too.
As camp starts to get closer with more news coming out, we will look to do more previews of the Colts. But football is almost here.