The outlook for the Colts future has shifted dramatically in just one year

Entering the 2023 season, the future of the Indianapolis Colts franchise is being viewed in a much different light than it was in the past.
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After a 9-8 season with a league-high seven Pro Bowlers in 2021, the Indianapolis Colts were considered a promising team. However, Indy went on to have a 4-12-1 season in 2022, and the team was the opposite of promising. However, the present day evaluation of a team is different from evaluating a team’s future.

After the 2021 season, there was a belief that the Colts had a bright future. With several young, talented stars, Indianapolis was a team that was best set up for the future. Unfortunately, just one year later, that’s no longer the case for Indy. In fact, it’s the complete opposite; the belief is now that Indy is one of the teams least set up for the future.

That was evident in ESPN’s annual future rankings. Every offseason, ESPN surveys its football experts, asking them to rate each team in five categories: quarterback situation, non-QB roster, drafting ability/capital, front office, and coaching. The ratings are then averaged and teams are ranked by their averge rating.

Last offseason, the Colts were one of the most promising teams, ranking No. 9 with an 82.8 overall score. This year, Indianapolis is near the bottom, ranked at No. 26, with a 72.7 overall.

Colts have 26th-best future according to ESPN

That's a huge difference, especially since only one year has passed. Here’s what led to the significant drop for Indianapolis. Indy’s non-QB roster score went from 84.3 (No. 13) to 69.0 (No. 29). The quarterback grade went from 78.0 (No. 16) to 71.7 (No. 27). Coaching went from 81.8 (No. 10) to 72.7 (No. 26), drafting from 83.5 (No. 4) to 77.0 (No. 16), and front office went from 87.3 (No. 4) to 77.3 (No. 20).

Overall, the Colts dropped significantly in every category. However, it seems like rankings were heavily influenced by the team’s performance during this past season, instead of a true evaluation of the future. Dan Graziano said the team should be hopeful because of the drafting track record, but Indy dropped 12 spots in the draft category. Additionally, Indy got much younger at quarterback, with a brighter future, going from Matt Ryan to Anthony Richardson, but the quarterback ranking dropped 11 spots. So the rating doesn’t seem to accurately reflect Indy’s outlook.

An accurate take that Louis Riddick shared was that Indianapolis’ turnaround depends on the offensive line. Riddick said the offensive line will either bounce back and help the Colts win games, or they’ll just be the most “overpaid unit in the NFL.” That’s extremely fair; Indy will go as the line goes.

Overall, though, the future for the Colts is still bright. Indianapolis is a young team with a lot of talent and promising coaching. Some things do need ironed out, and some players do need to gain experience, but ultimately, the future is bright in Indianapolis.