Colts 2023 season honors: MVP, most improved, rookie of the year, and more

Now that the 2023 NFL season is over for the Indianapolis Colts, let’s hand out some awards to the players on this year’s team.

Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers / Grant Halverson/GettyImages
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Now that the season is over, many are moving on straight to free agency starting in March followed by the draft in April. But before we move onto the next build, let's reflect on this season's successes and who stepped up in the toughest times.

The NFL Honors program recognizes players for their accomplishments in the season, so how would a Indianapolis Colts Honors look from this past season A season that started with a star running back holding out and was filled with suspensions and injuries, the team had to really step up to finish the season at 9-8 with a chance to make the playoffs.

Best Veteran Free Agent Acquisition: Samson Ebukam

When Samson Ebukam was signed by the Indianapolis Colts, many overlooked what Chris Ballard was doing. He was added to a defensive line that was doing well, but needed a little kick to get pressure on the quarterback. That's exactly what Ebukam brought to the Colts with 9.5 sacks on the season (a career high) which led the team. The Colts increased their sack total from 44 to 51 this season in large part to Ebukam's pressure.

Along with leading the team in sacks, Ebukam finished seventh in total tackles (57), third in tackles for loss (10), and tied for first in forced fumbles (3). Ebukam was the player the Colts needed to add to a very young defense.

Most Improved Player: E.J. Speed

At the start of the season, the Colts were really hoping for the return of Shaquille Leonard back to stardom, but alas they did not get that. On top of that, the Colts lost Bobby Okereke in the offseason, leaving the linebacker core very limited. Insert special teamer E.J. "The Kid That Did" Speed and he stepped up to his best ability. Speed took over the role that was once Leonard's and led the team when Franklin was not on the field.

The season was a good one for Speed, who finished the season with 102 total tackles (2nd on the team), one sack, 12 tackles for loss (1st), and three forced fumbles (T-1st). Another big season from E.J. Speed in 2024 and he will be considered one of the better linebackers in the league giving the Colts one of the best linebacker cores in the league.