Are the Indianapolis Colts Really Super Bowl Contenders?
Vegas currently has the Indianapolis Colts tied at 10-1 with the Denver Broncos as AFC favorites for winning the Super Bowl. Really? Can I talk in cliché for a moment? Teams who win free agency usually don’t win on the field. Sure, on paper it looks like a nice off season for the Colts. They signed Frank Gore, Andre Johnson and Trent Cole. But this is not nearly enough and does not address their problems. Lets dig in and see what I mean.
Let’s start on defense, where their biggest problems lie. Last year, this defense was 18th against the run. Now Laron Landry is gone, and they’ve added Trent Cole. While Cole has 4 seasons with 10+ sacks, his career high tackle total is 77. He is not a run defender. Perhaps the modern NFL is a passing league but when you’re giving up 177 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground in the AFC championship, you have a problem. The cornerback combo of Toler and Davis is above average but nothing spectacular. They are strong at inside linebacker with D’Qwell Jackson and Jarell Freeman, but in large part did not address their primary deficiency stopping the run. The Colts’ defense may see a few more sacks next year, but as it stands right now they haven’t significantly improved.
Offensively, you see the name Andre Johnson, and you say “Wow, the Colts just added one of the best ever at wide reciever!”. Relax, I love Johnson too but he’s another year older and was only marginally more productive than Reggie Wayne (who he’s essentially replacing) was last year. Johnson went 85 receptions – 936 yards – 3 TDs to Wayne’s 64 receptions – 779 yards – 2 TDs. You can sell me on Moncrief developing into a bigger role this year, but Andre Johnson isn’t who he was. He was once great, but so was Wayne.
Then you have Frank Gore. Gore ran 225 times for 1106 yards and 4 scores in 2015 at a 4.3 yards per carry clip. That’s nice. He’s traded more than just red and gold for blue and white though. He traded an O-line with two Pro Bowlers last year to an O-line with 0. Now I’m no Trent Richardson fan, but he did lose over half a yard per carry when he came to Indianapolis. My point here is simply, just because Frank Gore is (or perhaps was) a great running back doesn’t ensure Indy even a competent run game next year.
At the end of the day, a lot hinges on Andrew Luck. He has to get his INT numbers down (16 last year) and he has to put the team on his shoulders. It’s no easy task either, because despite a “big-splash” offseason there are still plenty of holes on this team. Even worse, it has been said that the Colts have a “finesse” type offense, which in my opinion is a death sentence in today’s NFL.
We’ll be watching closely in 2015.