The Indianapolis Colts’ rebuild, for lack of a better term, officially turned the corner last season when they finished 11-5 and qualified for the playoffs in a loaded AFC.
While that team had elite talent at all levels of the field, there were certain areas of the roster — like quarterback, wide receiver (injuries) and cornerback — that really prevented them from reaching their full potential.
Given that the Colts roster is seemingly on the cusp of being able to compete for a championship, it was maddening to see them bypass opportunities to spend big in free agency and set the roster over the top.
Despite that, we firmly believe this team still has the potential to achieve big things next season and beyond.
However, that didn’t stop Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star from proclaiming that the Colts “spent the offseason getting worse.”
This is certainly a provocative statement that will enrage some fans, so let’s conduct a deep dive into the roster to see if it actually holds some merit.
Did the Indianapolis Colts actually get worse this offseason?
For starters, there’s a distinct difference between calling an offseason disappointing and outright claiming the Colts are worse off than they were last year. In his column, Doyel listed the quarterback, edge rusher and left tackle positions as the baseline for his argument.
While the left tackle conundrum has yet to be addressed, it looks like Indy is poised to sign either Eric Fisher or Charles Leno — who have three Pro Bowl nods between them — in free agency, so let’s step off the ledge and place some trust in the front office.
Though nobody is capable of “replacing” Anthony Castonzo, signing one of Fisher or Leno should really eradicate all the concern and frustration fans have expressed over the last few months while the Colts have delayed finding a starting-caliber replacement.
As for the quarterback position, well, we’re not going to spend much time on that.
Though Wentz is coming off an atrocity of a season, anybody who thinks he doesn’t serve as a clear upgrade to that of the physically-limited Philip Rivers likely never really endorsed the decision to trade for the No. 2 overall pick in the first place.
Next up is the defensive end position. In Doyel’s defense, no sane human being can make the case that Indy is better off in this department. Losing Denico Autry and eventually Justin Houston once he signs elsewhere are massive departures.
However, can we at least give the Colts’ ample young pass rushing talent time to prove themselves before we write the position off entirely?
First-round pick Kwity Paye figures to feast alongside DeForest Buckner and both Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay have the potential to be game-breakers coming off the edge. With increased roles coming in 2021, it’s very possible they start to realize some of their untapped potential.
Perhaps we’re being hopelessly optimistic here, but this core has made strides in its development in each of the last three seasons. Every team endures losses, but we wouldn’t go as far as to say that the ones Indianapolis dealt with this offseason were crippling.
Assuming Wentz rediscovers his confidence after ridding himself of the Eagles’ perpetual dysfunction and the Colts sign either one of Fisher or Leno to protect his blindside, we’d argue with confidence that this team is better than it was last year.