Colts sliding down power rankings ahead of pivotal season

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts have dealt with all sorts of controversy and distractions since the start of training camp, which feels like ages ago.

“Thanks” to numerous star players getting injured and the team placing a handful of key pieces on the COVID list, fans have yet to see the Colts at full-strength. With the regular season starting up this week, that’s extremely concerning.

While nobody would deny the talent of Indy’s roster and their overall potential, it appears the sheer unknown about whether the unvaccinated Carson Wentz will stay on the field — whether it be through injury or a COVID-19-related absence — has compelled analysts to put the Colts’ hype train in park for the time being.

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In USA Today’s final power rankings before Week 1, the Colts slid all the way down No. 20, which is dreadful given how important of a season this is.

The Colts are sliding down the power rankings at the wrong time.

This is very much a pivotal season for Frank Reich and Chris Ballard. Though the head coach and GM both inked multi-year extensions during camp, they’re facing pressure to build on a promising 2020 in which the Colts won 11 games and pushed the juggernaut Bills to the brink in the first round of the playoffs.

Here’s what Nate Davis of USA Today had to say about the Colts and why they fell from No. 13 to No. 20 in the power rankings. As we suspected, his reservations have a lot to do with Wentz’s injury history and vaccination status.

"“Pretty disastrous preseason for a team trying to break in a new quarterback, whose susceptibility to injury and reluctance to be vaccinated left offense spinning its wheels in August and staring down the barrel of what could be a brutal start giving Indianapolis’ early schedule.”"

We understand where Davis is coming from, but having Wentz healthy for Week 1 should be considered a win given it was once feared he could miss the first three or four games after undergoing foot surgery.

The Colts are without a left tackle right now, but Eric Fisher is back practicing and should return by Week 2 or 3 at the latest. Quenton Nelson is also back after recovering from foot surgery and the defense, though Kenny Moore left Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, is locked and loaded for the season.

Surely, the Colts will finish better than the 20th-best team, no? We like to think they will, but with Wentz putting himself in a position to miss key games, it really isn’t surprising that USA Today has put a hard cap on Indy’s ceiling for 2021.

To put it simply, the Colts will be extremely lucky to make it through the season with Wentz having started all 17 games. With that in mind, it really isn’t all that crazy of USA Today to have Indy as low as they do in the rankings.

It just…wasn’t supposed to be this way.