25.4 — Average age at the start of the season
There was no doubt that Indianapolis embraced the youth movement in 2023. Ballard made the intentional decision last offseason to transition away from veterans like Matt Ryan, Stephon Gilmore, and Rodney McLeod in favor of young talent.
The Colts’ front office trusted younger players already under contract (Julian Blackmon, Nick Cross, Dayo Odingbo, Kwity Paye, Will Fries, and Bernhard Raimann) to accept more responsibility and relied on rookies (Anthony Richardson, JuJu Brents, Josh Downs, and Jaylon Jones) to plug major holes in the roster. The result was Indianapolis having a very young team by NFL standards including just five players currently over 30 years old. By the way, that list includes just two starters on offense or defense: 30-year-olds Ryan Kelly and Grover Stewart.
Fielding such a young squad was always going to be a gamble, and the Colts both benefitted and suffered from that decision. On one hand, Indianapolis discovered numerous promising building blocks for their future. Individuals like Downs and Brents have the potential to be high-impact contributors for years to come. On the other hand, the lack of maturity and proven quality was painful in the short term as the Colts still need time to develop. That being said, the fact that Indianapolis was just 15 yards away from a playoff berth regardless of their youth should be a source of optimism for fans.