The Indianapolis Colts were one of the biggest surprises from the 2018 Season. Despite a rookie head coach in Frank Reich, a questionable Andrew Luck coming back from injury, and a 1-5 start, they finished with a 9-1 record and secured a playoff spot. They beat Divison Rival Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round but ultimately lost to the […]
The Indianapolis Colts were one of the biggest surprises from the 2018 Season. Despite a rookie head coach in Frank Reich, a questionable Andrew Luck coming back from injury, and a 1-5 start, they finished with a 9-1 record and secured a playoff spot. They beat Divison Rival Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round but ultimately lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round 31-13. Despite the ending, the Colt had a successful season.
Part of it was the return of Andrew Luck, who missed all of 2017 with a shoulder injury. He came back in 2018 and reminded us why he is one of the best QBs in the NFL. On top of that, guys like Marlon Mack and Eric Ebron stepped up big time in the offense while T.Y. Hilton had another great season. In addition, the offensive line was incredible, protecting their franchise QB while providing some open lanes for the previously mentioned Mack in the run game.
On the defensive side, then Rookie Darius Leonard stepped up right away, leading the NFL in tackles and already shows that he is one of the best young linebackers in the league. Outside of that, Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore, while not household names, showed that they are solid corners that can lock down opposing receivers.
So fast forward to the offseason. While the team had a lot of cap space to sign free agents, they were surprisingly quiet in that department. They brought back Desir and Moore, the only notable signing was former Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Devin Funchess to provide a big pass-catching target. Towards the end of the free agency period, they signed Justin Houston, who was released by the Chiefs to boost the team’s defensive line and provides a nice pass rusher.
Here are my breakdowns on the positions for the Indianapolis Colts.
- Starter: Andrew Luck
- Backups: Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly
- Preseason Cuts: Phillip Walker
Luck had a really nice bounce-back season, winning the 2018 Comeback Player of the Year Award, showing that he is still one of the best QBs in the NFL. The one question with him is that before 2018, Luck dealt with multiple injuries, which include missing the entire 2017 season. Even now, there are questions if he will be healthy enough to play in Week 1.
If he can’t go, the Colts have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league in Brissett, who has played well when Luck was out and always has interest from other teams. Kelly makes the roster as the third QB, just in case they want to keep another QB on the roster for the early part of the season.
- Starter: Marlon Mack
- Backups: Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, D’Onta Freeman
- Preseason Cuts: Jonathan Williams, Aca’Cedric Ware
- PUP: Spencer Ware
Mack really showed that he can be the feature back in the offense, rushing for 908 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. He played in 12 games and could have easily reached the 1,000 if he played all 16 games. Hines is a third-down pass-catching back, forming a nice 1-2 punch.
Wilkins in a bigger back that completes the trio. Freeman was just claimed off waivers after being released from the Houston Texans. Much like the previously mentioned Wilkins, he is another young back that can play some spot duty also.
Ware underwent surgery surgey so he’ll start the season on the Physically Unable to Peform list (PUP for short), so he’ll be on the roster but it wont count for a spot. If Freeman or Wilkins impresses, Ware might not see the field once he is cleared to played.
- Starters: T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess
- Backups: Parris Campbell, Deon Cain, Chester Rogers, Zach Pascal, Daurice Fountain
- Preseason Cuts: Ashton Dulin, Penny Hart, Krishawn Hogan, Marcus Johnson, Roger Lewis, Jordan Veasy
- Out for the Year: Steve Ishmael
Hilton is an underrated WR and is a constant deep threat and favorite target to Luck. Funchess was signed this past offseason and gives Luck a nice big-bodied target, especially in the Red Zone.
Campbell, a second-round pick, stepps in right away as a speedy slot receiver. Cain suffered a ACL injury last preseason and looks to get more playing time as another young recevier for Luck to throw too. Pascal, Rodgers, and Fountain provide depth and could get some looks on the offense but may get more snaps on the field on Special Teams.
- Starters: Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle
- Backup: Mo Alie-Cox
- Preseason Cuts: Ross Travis, Hale Hentges, Gabe Holmes
- Out for the Year: Billy Brown
The Colts have one of the best tight ends groups in the NFL. Ebron, who was looked at as a bust for the Detroit Lions for the past few season, burst onto the scene last season, earning a Pro Bowl nod after 750 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Doyle was injured for a majority of the 2018 but is an overll solid tight end in the offense. Alie-Cox is a big TE that’ll get plenty of looks in the offense, especially in goal line formations.
- Starters: Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski, Braden Smith
- Backups: Evan Boehm, Joe Haeg, Le’Raven Clark
- Preseason Cuts: Josh Andrews, Jackson Barton, Jake Eldrenkamp, Antonio Garcia, Mark Glowinski, Daniel Munyer, Nate Theaker, J’Marcus Webb
- Out for the Year: Javon Patterson, Ian Silberman
Majority of the Colts’ success in 2018 was the impressive play of the offensive line. Castonzo and Smith are solid tackles that rarely get injured. Nelson was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection as a rookie and is the cornerstone for the future. Kelly and Glowinski complete the line, forming a fantastic starting line from left to right.
Boehm, Haeg, and Clark can play multiple positions if the starters get hurt, showing the depth the strong here.
- Starters: Jabaal Sheard, Denico Autry, Tyquan Lewis, Justin Houston
- Backups: Margus Hunt, Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Jihad Ward, Grover Stewart
- Preseason Cuts: Gerri Green, Obum Gwacham, Dadi Nicolas, Carroll Phillips, Caraun Reid, Sterling Shippy
- Out for the Year: Jegs Jegede
The Colts defensive line has a lot of different rotations with Sheard and Houston forming a nice defensive end duo, being solid pass rushers as well as run stoppers. Autry and Lewis form a nice young tackle duo.
Guys like Hunt, Turay, and Muhammad are solid backups that will get a lot of playing time. An overall solid group of guys on the defensive line.
- Starters: Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker Jr., Matthew Adams
- Backups: Bobby Okereke, E.J. Speed, Skai Moore
- Preseason Cuts: Ben Banogu, Zaire Franklin, Ahmad Thomas
The former 2018 second-round pick in Leonard came out of nowhere last season, recording 163 tackles along with seven sacks, earning a First Team All-Pro selection in the process. He’ll be the star in the linebacking core with Walker and Adams completing the trio of starters.
Both Okereke and Speed are rookies that’ll eventually develop into solid starters but will look to play Special Teams this season, along with Moore.
- Starters: Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore
- Backups: Rock Ya-Sin, Quincy Wilson, Jalen Collins
- Preseason Cuts: Nate Hairston, Isaiah Langley, Christopher Milton, Shakial Taylor
Moore and Desir had breakout seasons in 2018, re-signing both and will be the starters in Week 1. Ya-Sin is a second-round pick in this past draft who will get a lot of playing time as a physical corner. Wilson and Collins should get some looks to but the latter will get more snaps as a Special Teamer.
- Starters: Malik Hooker, Clayton Geathers
- Backups: Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III
- Preseason Cuts: Matthias Farley, Isaiah Johnson, Derrick Kindred, Rolan Milligan, George Odum
Hooker is a good young safety that covers the field nicely. Geathers will start besides Hooker and can also line up with the linebackers to stop the run when needed. Willis and Tell are solid backups that can play in certain formations as well as Special Teams.
- Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
- Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez
- Long Snapper: Luke Rhodes
- Preseason Cuts: Cole Hedlund
Vinatieri is one of the best kickers of all time and even at 46, there is no signs of him slowing down. Sanchez was a solid punter as a rookie last season while Rhodes has been a solid long snapper since 2016. No changes here, joining the other teams previously mentioned as the specialist trio are in tack.
This team is young but have a lot of talent. Mack showed to be a future star running back while Hilton, Funchess, Campell, and Ebron are solid receivers Luck can throw to. The offensive line is great as stated earlier, with Nelson leading the group. Of course, it all comes down to Luck and his health. If he suits up Week 1 and their are no problems, the Colts can easily be in the playoff conversation.
As for the defensive side, Leonard to the clear star here that’ll no doubt take a big step forward in year two. Houston and Sheard are great pass rushers that’ll cause opposing offensive lines problems while Desir, Moore, and Hooker is an underrated secondary.
While I think the Houston Texans are the division favorite, the Colts are not too far behind. Fellow members of the division Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans will compete too but I have Indianapolis the clear cut number two team in the division.