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2017 NFL Season Preview- Indianapolis Colts
If anything can be said about the 2016 Colts, its that they were consistently inconsistent.
The team failed to produce in key games which ultimately cost them a division title. For the first time in team history, the Colts lost to the Texans twice in the same season and lost embarrassingly to Jacksonville in London.
Quarterback Andrew Luck had a strong comeback season after missing most of 2015. He completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 4,240 with 31 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. Running back Frank Gore had his ninth career 1,000 yard rushing as the team's workhorse. Robert Turbin proved to be a reliable short yardage and goal line runner leading the team with seven rushing touchdowns. Tight end Jack Doyle was one of the biggest surprises of the season finishing second on the team with 59 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns. Other than TY Hilton, the receiver corps was really inconsistent. Donte Moncrief missed a lot of playing time sue to injuries but still lead the team with seven receiving touchdowns. Phillip Dorsett had some moments but should no consistency in his route running. For the first rime in awhile, the offensive line is starting to show improvement. Despite allowing 44 sacks, the foundation gives Indianapolis a promising future.
The defensive line deal with several injuries to starters which opened the door for their backups. Outside linebacker Robert Mathis finished his Colts career by passing Dwight Freeney as the Colts all time sack leader with 123. Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson played well before being suspended the final four games for performance enhancing drugs. Outside linebacker Erik Walden had his best season with 11 sacks. Other than safety Mike Adams, the secondary struggled being consistent all year. Cornerback Vontae Davis continues to struggle to play at the same level over the course of the season.
The team produced two Pro Bowlers in wide receiver TY Hilton and punter Pat McAfee. Hilton earned his third Pro Bowl trip after leading the league with 1,448 receiving yards and racking in 91 receptions and six touchdowns. McAfee proved to be a valuable weapon for the team but shockingly retired after the season.
The rookie class saw a lot of playing time and give hope for next season. Center Ryan Kelly was as good as advertised and was starter from day one. Safety TJ Green is a work in progress but saw a lot of playing time due to injuries. Offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark struggled in the preseason but started late in the year. Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway played better than expected. Inside linebacker Antonio Morrison still needs to learn better pass coverage but is a hard hitter in the run game. Offensive lineman Joe Haeg proved to be a valuable player seeing action at both guard spots and right tackle.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 23rd
NFL Rank- 27th
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 30th
Going 8-8 for the second straight season, head coach Chuck Pagano has to make some big strides if he expects to be back for a sixth season in Indianapolis.
On January 21, the team fired general manager Ryan Grigson. He was replaced by former Kansas City Chiefs Director of Football Operations Chris Ballard.
Notable Additions- WR Kamar Aiken, DT Jonathan Hankins, DE Margus Hunt, OLB Barkevious Mingo, OLB John Simon, S Tyvis Powell
Notable Departures- TE Dwayne Allen, OLB Trent Cole, OLB Robert Mathis, OLB Erik Walden, ILB D'Qwell Jackson, S Mike Adams
TY Hilton Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
With the 15th overall pick going into the Draft, Indianapolis had to address issues at key positions. Most notably at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and cornerback.
Robert Mathis is retired and Erik Walden Is now in Tennessee. John Simon is a solid player but Barkevious Mingo has been a bust at this point. The team needs a long term, athletic edge rusher.
D'Qwell Jackson was released after the season due to his suspension. Edwin Jackson looks to be a tough run stopper but the team needs a playmaker at that position.
Free agents haven't worked out at cornerback. The team needs a physical corner to make the defense work.
On draft day, Indianapolis selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker with the 15th overall pick. Hooker was said to have the best closing and recovery speed of any safety in the draft but is an inconsistent tackler. He also slid in the draft due to having two surgeries to repair a hernia and torn labrum which caused him to miss the NFL Combine.
The Colts also notably drafted Florida Quincy Wilson in the second round, Ohio linebacker Tarell Basham in the third, and USC offensive tackle Zach Banner and South Florida running back Marlon Mack in the fourth. Wilson looks the part of a long corner but has a lazy technique in his back pedal. Basham has all the physical tools to be a great outside linebacker but plays with force rather than technique. Banner has mammoth size for the position but has struggled to control his weight over his college career. Mack was viewed as the best outside runner in the draft but relies to much on avoiding defenders rather than lowering the shoulder and getting what he can.
Malik Hooker Highlights
What to Expect
With the all the talent on this offense, it would be embarrassing for Indianapolis not to be in the playoffs.
Andrew Luck is still the ideal NFL quarterback, he just needs to continue cutting down his interceptions. Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, and Marlon Mack have the potential to be a three headed monster at running back and take a lot of pressure off Luck. If Donte Moncreif and Phillip Dorsett can stay healthy and consistent, they can join TY Hilton to form a reliable group of receivers. With a young offensive line, the group should only grow stronger together.
The main concern remains with the defense. John Hankins is an upgrade on the defensive line and it should be solid if the unit as a whole can stay healthy. The team lost three of their four starting linebackers so Barkevious Mingo, Antonio Morrison, and John Simon have to really step up and fill those shoes. Malik Hooker give the team a playmaker in the secondary but their are still issues with consistency at cornerback.
As it stands, Houston still should be favored to win the AFC South due to their depth, but Indianapolis has the capability to fight for a wildcard spot if the team stays healthy.
Best record they can hope for: 10-6